Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why is Everyone Else Doing Better?

There's a reason they call it March Madness, and it has nothing to do with the NBA- unless we're talking about "Not Being Already-booked."  It's that point when photographers have spent far too much time online- fielding emails for inquiries of people who haven't cleared their winter brain fog, going over last year's work and deciding if they should rebrand or create an entirely new website AGAIN, and spending too much time on social media or forums where they can size-up and compare themselves to others.  Whether we think we're better or worse than what anyone else has going on, the danger is in the comparison itself, and taking the attention off of our own intentions and focusing it on others instead of ourselves.

This is also the time of year I end up doing more consulting with people who want to get ahead by putting plans in place now before it gets busy, and one of the things I hear over and over again is people saying something to the effect of, "this person is doing SO well, they're sharing new work ALL the time."  Of course, they rarely seem to stop and consider that perhaps that work isn't paid work, or perhaps it's actually recycled old work from last year that's just now getting shared, or any other combination of things that appear to be one thing when maybe they're actually something else.

You see, the illusion created is that other people appear busy while you're just hanging out online, and regardless of what's actually going on behind the scenes.  You just fell for an illusion, or even worse- compared yourself to that illusion like looking at a photoshopped magazine cover model.  If you were busy implementing your own plans and getting down to work on your craft, you'd have no time to dilly dally with comparisons or other people's illusions.  If you were shooting, or out networking, or creating your next newsletter, or developing your next pitch for a special sales event, you wouldn't be on facebook or twitter watching the world go by your browser window.

The reality is that you're not getting ahead because you aren't creating work for yourself, instead, you're waiting for work to walk in the door.  If you aren't creating work for yourself, than you also aren't sharing work to promote yourself, leaving you even more time to spend looking at what everyone is doing rather than creating your own buzz-worthy projects and sharable shoots.

See where I'm going?  Do I even need to finish?

If what you want is to get ahead, you have to take some action and create something that's in line with what you love and what you want to attract.  Have fun with it, go big, get crazy, be outrageous, try things you'd never try with a paying client, answer only to your own sensibilities- and in doing that, you may create something entirely unique and buzz worthy.  Share it unabashedly like it's your newborn child.  Share it in as many ways as you can and leverage that work to attract new work.  Don't stop there, rinse and repeat.  Make it a practice that when you don't have work from others, you create work for yourself, so that you can always keep moving ahead to your next great client.  Start your process now by telling us in the comments what your next awesome project will be!


Anne Ruthmann is an editorial & event photographer in New York City. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business.  She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems.  Stay in touch on Twitter or Facebook.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stop Apologizing For Not Blogging

I fully admit that I have been guilty of apologizing on my blog for not blogging, as if I was letting myself and everyone in the world down for not writing a post every day, week, or month.  However, when I started reading posts with these apologies at the top, I found them to be really distracting from the content that I had clicked to read- drawing attention to the fact that someone had been away from their blog and felt guilty, which I may not have noticed if they hadn't written anything!

While blogging consistency does lead to increased traffic, the only one who sets expectations about how often you should blog is you.  Therefore, apologizing for not doing something that only you have expectations about actually highlights the fact that you set unreasonable expectations for yourself, and frankly, that makes you look bad. Instead, just blog when you want to blog, and don't blog when you don't want to blog.  If you don't want to show how long it's been since your last post, just remove the date in your layout or post template.  If people are really concerned, they'll write you and ask how you're doing, but not blogging isn't a crime or a public offense that you need to apologize for.

I had this weird expectation that I should blog all the time, or at least once a week, or for every single client, or else I was letting my business and my clients down.  Once I stopped feeling guilty about blogging infrequently, it actually made it easier to get back to the blog when I had some free time. It was no longer an obligation that weighed me down and took me away from the core parts of my business, and it became more enjoyable because I wasn't pumping out posts full of crap just to have content up.  I started spending more time writing quality posts that were inspired by something meaningful, in ways that weren't just helpful to me, but also to my audience.  Yes, blogging is a great SEO tool and marketing piece for your business, but if you're so busy serving clients offline that you don't have time to create more content online, there's certainly nothing wrong with that!

Anne Ruthmann is an editorial & event photographer in New York City. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business.  She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems.  Stay in touch on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Need A Little One-On-One Help?

The annual Thirst Relief Mentor Auction is one of the few ways you make a charitable contribution that saves lives by providing clean water, while also getting some one-on-one photo business help for yourself.  Most of the time, when you sign up for a regular workshop with any of the mentors listed, you aren't getting much one-on-one time; you're generally just getting a lecture-style workshop where you can ask a few questions, but the answers need to be applicable to a larger audience.  One-on-one mentoring is even more valuable because you get to really dig into your specific situation in a private conversation and discover what might help move you forward in a way that is unique from everyone else in the room.

The Thirst Relief Mentor Auction starts tonight 2/6/14 and ends on Sunday evening 2/9/14.  There are many great photographers available to mentor you, including yours truly, but take a look at the list and see who might be a best fit for you and what you're looking for.  I've been a mentor for the auction for about 4 or 5 years now and I when I look back at the people I worked with, I can see how just a little push or problem solving in the right direction can make a huge difference, but also how their winning bids made an even bigger difference in the world!

Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of the Thirst Relief Mentor Auction:

  • Identify 3-5 people you'd like one-on-one mentoring with.
  • Note the different mentor ending times listed on Ebay, so that you can move your bid quickly if you're outbid.
  • Remember that your bid is going to charity, not to the person you're bidding on, and that the value of your bid is ultimately going to benefit a family or an entire community with clean water, and not just giving you some one-on-one help.
  • If you run out of people you're familiar with to bid on, bid on someone you've never heard of!  Mentors are generally in the auction because they have something valuable to offer and they really want to help others.  Not only might you find yourself pleasantly surprised with the help and knowledge you receive from someone you've never heard of, but your winning bid will still be a charitable donation for Thirst Relief.

Good luck and generous bidding!

Thirst Relief Mentor Auction



Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer in New York, NY. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business in 2004.  She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems.  Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.

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