Here are a few ideas that I use to impact my business quickly and also help me move from a creative block.
A few years ago I wrote about the things I do when given a chance to jump out and spend a little time on a project. That list is still pretty timely, so here it is again; “Ten Things You Can Do to Positively Impact Your Business”
1. Take a Road Trip
I love road trips. Planning them, packing for them, and doing them. Unpacking… well, not so much. But road trips are one of the most fun and inspiring things you can do. I try to take small road trips whenever possible.
I was invited to speak in Vancouver a few years ago. Instead of flying into Vancouver, I opted to fly to Seattle, rent a car and drive the 3 hours up.
It was cloudy and rainy on the way up, but stopping for lunch with my friend Bret, and a side trip down the Chuckanut road into Bellingham (Hwy 11) made it quite fun. Although I didn’t get as many images as I had hoped, I still had a blast listening to jazz and seeing places I had never seen before.
I love driving in new places, seeing things I have never seen and will never see again, and filling the head with visual possibilities. It is always nice to fill a card with some imagery too, but that is not always necessary. The time alone and the visual interest are always enough to trigger ideas.
2. Clean Up Your Website
We can always get into that website and freshen up the client lists, bio page, and images. Check in with your Analytics and see if there is some trend you need to capitalize on. Some new keywords, tidy up the home page content, change out that tired slide show and… hey – that’s my list. Heh.
Taking a few hours each month to add images, check page loads, make sure all links are working and what the site looks like in mobil devices is great preventative action.
It also lets you see what your viewers are seeing, and if your site needs new imagery. (It does, I checked.)
3. Learn Something New
Have you thought about putting together a new WordPress blog? Or opening a small online store to sell products (Amazon Fulfillment)? Have you thought about writing articles for a favorite blog? Now is a great time to take some online classes in WordPress or Photoshop or Dreamweaver. I like Lynda.com.
Take a writing class, or some sort of art class. If you play an instrument, get some lessons and see how your brain kicks the visual areas into high gear.
Take a workshop in a new place, then plan a drive there. The mix of road trip and workshop can make for some amazing images, and some incredible creative flow.
Take your images and make a damn book. Edit it down to something you are proud of. Write some text, caption a few photos, make some “editorial decisions”. Work hard on it. Make small prints of a couple of hundred images and edit – edit – edit them down to the 50 images you want to showcase.
Maybe it is a compilation of all the best images you made last year. Or maybe it is a set of images you did of your favorite model, or subject, or location.
Purchase a few copies of the book and make sure they are out in view in your studio / office. Show everyone you know the new book. Love it.
5. Add to Portfolio
Shoot some new stuff. Shoot some stuff that you have never thought about shooting. Shoot some stuff you have thought about shooting but had not taken the time to do them. You know the ones I am talking about.
Find a project to work on, and then do it and get it done. Working keeps you sharp, and it keeps you fresh. Keeping the trigger finger going, and the Photoshop cranking keeps the ideas coming in at a furious pace. And having a project keeps you focused.
Get that project edited, then get it onto the website and into your print portfolio. Get ready for new visitors and possible viral engagement.
6. Blog/Write Articles for Established Media
Share your ideas, images and projects with interested people. Show clients what you do, how you meet challenges, and how you provide visual solutions to the projects they are working on.
Brag. Share. Engage with the people who drop by. Invite conversation, and meet new people through your blog. Don’t do it because you ‘have to’ – do it because it is fun.
And don’t do it expecting something in return. ROI on blogging is not like ROI on investing in a good marketing campaign. Blogging is something that you either love to do or do not. If you are one who doesn’t like to write, then just get a Tumblr and put images on it when you get them. Be consistent, and show work that may not be on your portfolio site. Or work that IS on your portfolio site.
There is no right way, you got that – right?
7. Try Something Different
Ever shoot film? Try it.
Ever shoot a Hasselblad with film? Try that too.
Rent a view camera and learn how to use it. Shoot something that just ‘feels’ like a large format shot.
Do a video on your project. Add sound. Create a storyboard, script and shoot schedule. Shoot it on a pocket camera – or shoot it on your DSLR.
Find out what photographers mean by ‘motion’ and give it a shot. How about a headshot with motion? Or a small story about a creek in your neighborhood? Go on, it’s new and different – and that is all it has to be for now.
8. Organize Your Gear
I do this every year. Get the gear out, spread it around the studio and do an inventory. What needs to be fixed? What needs to be touched up, or tossed out? Do I have all the gear I need (including one more stand than I have… perpetually), and is it accounted for?
I make a list of gear and what containers they are in. Standbaggers are audited, and a ‘packing list’ is created, laminated and attached. Now I know where all the gear I have is, and with careful re-packing I can keep control of what I have – and not end up on a gig without something really important.
The amount of gear has grown to it taking the better part of a day to do now, and that makes it even more important. I need to know where every piece of gear is, and how to get to it easily and quickly. Packing for a gig is so much easier with this system.
9. Build a List
Planning for the new year means a good time to make a list of perspective clients. Hit the bookstores and get the names and publications into your iPad or smart phone or laptop. Shoot the “Masthead” pages of magazines on your camera phone and move contact info into your contact management system immediately. Organize the list for the work you do, get ready to begin the push in email, direct mail, and any other contact forms you want to work with in the fall.
Plan the marketing with your list carefully and create a strong plan for getting your work in front of the people you have identified.
10. Market Your Ass Off
Just do it.
Show everyone what you do. Get a new set of cards done and pass them out. Make sure you wear your branded tee shirts, with matching branded walking shorts and that cool little branded beanie where ever you go.
OK, that beanie thing may be a little over the top. But only a little. Being top of mind with as many people as possible means that there is a better chance for a referral, or a mention or a call for a gig.
So there ya go… ten or so ideas to keep you busy. As we go into the New Year. Each can be the catalyst for some big new work coming up. I start this year with a pretty full plate, but each of the above is being carefully woven into the next couple of months, scheduled in as though it were a gig, and planned in advance.
Keeping the creative flowing is always the challenge, and one you and I must constantly meet head on if we are to survive and thrive in this business.