Standardize for Success

While reading the agenda for the American Society of Media Photographers’ Strictly Business 2 seminars, I couldn’t help being amazed at the breadth and depth of these three-day sessions. The seminars cover all the important business skills that have little to do with photography per se. They are about essential –– though admittedly boring –– subjects like paperwork, legalities, marketing, pricing and negotiating.

It is a safe bet you did not get into photography because you loved these parts of the job. But, now that you are in the business, you must tend to these matters if you want to thrive as a photographer.

Which brings me to a point I like to make: If you set your business up correctly, you can and should minimize the amount of time spent on these important distractions.

How do you do that? You standardize these tasks as much as possible.

You need, for example, one delivery notice, one standard model release, one estimate sheet and one basic job contract. Each document will have a few blank areas to fill in. But, for the most part, the documents should be written once and changed only when circumstances require. Keep them on your computer so changes can be handled quickly and efficiently.

Your sales pitch also should be standardized. Having sold your services a few times, you probably have found that certain approaches work. Make these approaches a regular part of your presentation. Cut out everything that does not seem to help. Have ready answers to commonly asked questions. Craft a strong conclusion to your presentation — one that specifically asks for the job.

Employ this sales process whenever you can. For the most part, you will be more confident every time you use it and your results should improve with your confidence.

Advertising also can be standardized. Once you figure out what works, keep doing it until it stops working.

Over time, you will change everything as legalities, your photographic approach and the needs of clients change. Evolution is normal, but relatively slow. Just don’t change anything without a good reason.

So, make the effort to do things right the first time. Change only what requires changing. Spend the bulk of your time doing what you love. That’s good business.

One of the four Strictly Business 2 seminars has already been held. If you missed the one in Los Angeles, consider signing up for the Atlanta session this weekend, the Philadelphia session March 7 to 9 or the Chicago session April 11 to 13.

[tags]photography business, photography tips[/tags]

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