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25 ways to build a local following

Today we have a guest post from Bryan Caporicci of Sprouting Photographer.

We’ve all heard the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail” and we know it’s truth, yet so many photographers still run their businesses day-to-day without putting much time and effort into creating a plan. In the busyness of shooting, editing, having meetings, writing emails and making phone calls, we need to set aside time to work on our business instead of just working in our business.

We often think of running a marketing campaign in the “off” season to get more business when things are slow, but by then it’s too late; the time to run the campaign was two months ago so that your phone is ringing now. Simply put, you need to market in the “on” season so that it generates interest in your “off” season. The key is to be intentional and premeditated with your marketing plan so that you can be hitting the right market at the right time in a consistent manner.

I suggest taking some time this week to look at a month-by-month calendar for the next 12 months and put together a marketing calendar. If you need help with this, Design Aglow has a great Marketing & PR Guide & Calendar.

Here are the three steps I recommend for designing your marketing calendar:

  1. Brainstorm all of the promotions, programs and campaigns you want to run. Write these down on a blank piece of paper without any dates associated to them yet. For each idea, define its purpose, theme and call to action. Narrow this list down to your best 6-8 ideas that you’ll run over the next 12 months.
  2. Schedule those 6-8 ideas in your calendar. When do you want to run these programs/promotions? Do you want to tie them to specific dates or holidays? How long will they run?
  3. Plan out the timeline for each program. Work backwards and set out dates one month prior, which is when you will announce and start the promotion. Also mark a date two months prior, which is when you’ll want to start planning the program, designing material for it and putting the details together.

The Internet has been great for spreading ideas and reaching an audience, and I would certainly recommend incorporating an online component to the promotion of your campaigns (Facebook ads, Twitter, e-newsletters, etc). Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater though… it’s important to consider a strong offline component to your marketing initiatives as well.

Here are 25 ways you can gain local awareness and recognition. Each idea could be strategically tied to a specific campaign or be used independently to build your brand locally:

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Creating a well-rounded marketing plan should incorporate 4 key components: variety in concepts, diversity in promotions, consistency in presentation and repetition in visibility. The ultimate testament to a successful local marketing plan is when prospects are calling you and saying that they “see you everywhere”.

 

bryan-caporicci-headshot-200pxBryan is an award winning portrait photographer based out of Fonthill, Canada. He is a Fuji X-Photographer and is one of the youngest photographers to receive his CPA. He runs a popular educational website for photographers called Sprouting Photographer

CATEGORIES: Education, Marketing

10 Ways To Use Pinterest For Your Business

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In case you haven’t heard, Pinterest is the king of traffic referrals to third-party sites. So how are you utilizing this sleeping giant to further your business? Today’s post launches a monthly blog series on basic business hacks you probably haven’t thought of yet.

We know you don’t have tons of time to spend on Pinterest (be careful, you don’t want to end up in a Pinterest support group!) so we’ve put the hours in for you. Here are our Top 10 tricks for utilizing Pinterest to your advantage:

10 Ways To Use Pinterest For Your Business

1. Be visible. Create an identifiable name and bio for your account, and use your logo or a good headshot for your profile image. Verify your website so people know it’s really you (the little check mark that shows up next to your site). Pinterest offers easy step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

2. Be pinnable. Make sure every image on your website/blog is pinnable! It’s easy to install a “Pin It” button to your site — there are multiple options available for every web hosting platform. Add a Pinterest widget to your blog/site and help your fans market for you!

3. Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of your pins should be lifestyle content related to what your brand represents, and 20% should be your own content and images. Consider adding boards themed around travel getaways, framed wall galleries, lifestyle or anything else that speaks to the “voice” of your brand.

4. Pay attention to your Pinterest analytics. This can be found in your profile under Analytics. Export your Site Metrics and record your findings in a doc weekly to keep track of what’s working and what’s not.

5. Create content. Tall vertical images are the most popular on Pinterest. Create and upload Pinterest-specific vertical images directly from your computer to link back to your site. Need help? Check out our Blog & Print Layouts for creating perfectly-sized ‘Pin Me!” layouts.

6. Be intentional. Make sure you’re following and interacting with the same people you’re connected to on other social media channels. Like whatever pins you want, but be picky about what to repin (your clients probably won’t want to see 99 smoothie recipes!).

7. Be consistent. Like any social media channel, you will see your following increase exponentially when you keep with it. Create a social media calendar you stick with every day/week, and make sure Pinterest is a part of that. Like, repin, respond to comments. Even setting aside an hour each week is better than being invisible!

8. Talk about your Pinterest on other social media channels. Let’s be honest: who is really seeing your Facebook page these days? It’s important to move your existing following over to newer platforms. Taking time to invest in your Pinterest following now will pay off in the long run!

9. Don’t use hashtags. Your pins will show up in a search without hashtags (they just look cluttered). Create short, snappy captions using important keywords.

10. Be strategic. Keep your Pinterest clean and clutter-free. Put the most important boards first. Make sure the links aren’t broken. Go through your boards and delete old/outdated pins that haven’t had much traction. Use Secret Boards for personal content.

For more inspiration, be sure to follow us on Pinterest and check out our Pin To Win #designaglowwishlist contest going on now for a chance to win one of our favorite marketing products!

CATEGORIES: Education

product spotlight: pricing guide for portrait photographers

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The numbers behind your business might not be pretty, whimsical, or full of joy… but they are important! One of the primary causes for failure in small businesses is not the quality of work produced, but the inability to get a handle on finances, costs, and profits.

Understanding the true cost considerations of your business allows you to determine how to price to cover your costs, then to price for your brand – two very different, but equally important, concepts.

Design Aglow has created another exceptional educational tool that will cover the groundwork of basic business finance and budgets, provide you with Best Practices thinking to set up budgets for cost recovery, calculating your time and paycheck and pricing to support your brand strategy. In addition, we have provided you with three ready-to-use price lists that you can put into place today to immediately achieve profitable sales. Finally, of course, we have our industry experts weigh in with their thoughts and experiences to place everything into a perspective you will understand.

The Essential Pricing Guide for Portrait Photographers is a mini-MBA created just for you!

Hear what other professionals are saying:

“The Design Aglow Pricing Guide for Portrait Photographers is a fantastic resource that no one should miss.  It explains how to create prices in such a easy to understand way that applies to both just starting out photographers as well as experienced professionals. With this guide you will never second guess your price list again!” – Laura Novak, Little Nest Portraits

“I just couldn’t put it away. I worked through the whole thing from start to finish. VERY different approach from what I’m used to hearing (which is the “multiply it by 7 or 10 for prints and by 3 or 4 for canvases/books” etc. It’s a whole paradigm shift! I’m planning on reviewing it and comparing it to EVERYTHING I’ve heard in the last 3 years. It’s THAT different.” – Caryn Scanlon

“The Essential Pricing Guide is just that….essential.  The wealth of information and guidance provided in this product is really unbelievable!  Not one stone has been left unturned, and it can guide both seasoned portrait photographers and those just starting out through tricky budgeting, pricing, and planning hurdles.  We get emails daily from those just beginning their business, asking sweeping questions about the hows and the whys of how we operate.  We now have the perfect resource to point them towards.  This pricing guide should be a cornerstone resource for all portrait photographers serious about their business.” -Angela Weedon

“Are you a portrait photographer? Do you know your numbers? I am discovering mine thanks to this Pricing Guide – thanks Design Aglow for another awesome (elegant and useful) product for photographers.” – Seshu Badrinath, Seshu Photography

CATEGORIES: Education

the mini session guide is here!

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Sometimes great things really do come in small packages. Perfect for clients on the go, Mini Sessions deliver a custom boutique photography experience without a huge time (or financial) investment. The Design Aglow Mini Session Guide includes step-by-step instructions to guide you through the entire process, from lighting, to handling clients, time squeezes, and session workflow.

With our Guide to lead your way, your studio can feature an entire year of gorgeous Mini Session events in five themes: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter & Anytime. Ideal for building buzz, bringing in new clients, and generating business during slower times of the year, our comprehensive Mini Session package will get you started as soon as you download!

*Special thanks to Shannon Sewell Photography & Alyssa Saylor Photography for the lovely images throughout our guide.

CATEGORIES: Education, What's New & What's Hot

the top six: organization & workflow

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Smart organization and effective workflow are key factors to any successful business. With help from six of Design Aglow’s most popular studio success tools you can streamline these systems and get back to doing what you do best: photography!

1. The Big Picture: An Essential Planner for Studio & Personal Success
Turn your hopes and dreams into real accomplishments with our simple and effective system for getting things done. Other planners on the market don’t take into account the specific needs of photographers and their businesses; The Big Picture’s gorgeous aesthetic and practical approach will change your life. Let Design Aglow set you up for success in workflow, planning, marketing, and your unique “big picture” goals every single day.

With a 100% customizable format, start planning with The Big Picture on any day you wish, with a fresh design that allows you to fill in your own dates for 2014 and beyond. Once you’ve personalized The Big Picture with your choice of cover and other customizable components, keep yourself accountable by joining The Big Picture Facebook community and enjoying our time management newsletters, motivational content, and additional downloads for your planner every single month, all included with your purchase!

2. Studio Workflow Assistant
Do you frequently find yourself relying on sticky notes to recall important client info and product details? You need an organization intervention – and you can find all the tools to do just that (and more!) in the Essential Workflow Studio Assistant template for photographers. We named this guide the Studio Assistant because it’s designed to help you with virtually every aspect of studio life, from organizing your client lists to organizing your entire production system. Distinguish your workspace by keeping orderly schedules and by designating places for things and processes. This whiteboard template helps you create the ultimately organized workspace with photographer-specific best practices workflow system, session checklists and more, serving as a complete photographer’s guide to studio organization. And, everything is fully editable and can be customized to your own specifications.

3. Studio Order Form
Design Aglow’s Studio Order Form is pretty and prepared, with its simple worksheet format for studio order fulfillment, complete with customizable features and crisp layout. Snazzy and smart, these customizable fill-in-the-blank forms will ensure your workflow stays orderly and organized, and includes all of the most important information. Simply add your studio details and branding components, print as regular or carbon copies, and start writing orders!

• Give clients a clear definition of the invoicing details and key information
• Keep orders clearly organized for fulfillment
• Includes space for client signature acknowledging order approval, model release, and copyright information – all in one place!

4. Studio Email Assistant
Do you struggle to create smart studio policies that will head off client issues before they arise? What about finding the best way to approach a touchy subject with a client?

We’re not all gifted with the ability to write, but communication is a key factor to any business and you’re certainly not alone in wishing you had eloquent studio policies for virtually every situation. It’s for you that Design Aglow has to created an extensive collection of 20 professionally crafted business correspondence letters.

The complete catalog of beautifully written emails helps you deliver the perfect prose for any situation, while also diplomatically but firmly establishing your business policies. You will head off potential problems from the very start, helping you avoid a host of common pitfalls.

The Studio Email Assistant has you covered on everything from how to handle price shoppers and habitual re-schedulers, to how to appropriately set the rules for smart studio policies.

5. Essential 3 Hour Wedding Workflow
How long does it take you to edit a wedding? 5 hours? 10? 20? Stop the madness! You need to be able to turn that wedding around quickly if you are to make any profit for your time and your art. Sadly, many photographers struggle with getting their editing time under control.

We are here to help get you on our simple 3 hour workflow system…with a little practice, you can wrap up that wedding by lunchtime on Monday! Our Essential 3 Hour Wedding Workflow takes you through a revolutionary process for editing that begins with the end in mind. We follow a “do it right the first time” mentality that starts with camera settings and finishes with final client delivery, and of course illustrates and explains every single step in between.

6. Photographer’s Marketing & PR Guide & Calendar
Do marketing, social (and live!) networking, communications and public relations leave your head spinning? Do you have 1,001 ideas for the New Year but have no idea where to begin? Do you start, but never finish, projects? The Marketing and PR Calendar is a 41 page guide that has the answers to these questions that will help you plan, organize and act in a way that will ensure success in the upcoming year. This start to finish primer is another exceptional business product that will educate you on marketing and social media, provide you with worksheets so you can apply concepts immediately to your own business, and includes a Calendar to keep it all on track (and give you daily ideas and inspiration for those days when the well is dry!). If that’s not enough, read up on how industry leaders manage their marketing and social media campaigns using everything from traditional marketing and PR campaigns to quick and easy social media hits! Think of this as a quick and easy version of “Marketing, PR and Social Media 101.”

 

CATEGORIES: Education

the big picture planner: helping you succeed in 2014

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Photographers from all over the world are raving about The Big Picture Planner:

“The Big Picture Planner is one of the most powerful comprehensive documents to use for my business, from being able to keep daily to do lists to tracking and managing my financial goals. I love that it was  “plug and play.” I made no customizations and printed everything as-is and immediately started using it in my business. The financial investment and time investment is minimum when compared to what I know the payback will be. The Big Picture Planner helps me take my big goals/ideas and break them into easily attainable tasks, which as a “creative” can be difficult. Committing myself to using the Big Picture Planner as a daily part of my business will most definitely give me an edge in 2014. It’s like having my own business/marketing team. Thank you Design Aglow for once again creating a business tool, designed for the financial success of the photographer.” – Courtney Ortiz Photography

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CATEGORIES: Education, The Big Picture Planner, What's New & What's Hot
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