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Recap from Presentation at the New Media Conference at Cepic

Presented by Beate Chelette and Marco Oonk

Since I sold my specialized stock photography syndication Beateworks to Corbis in 2006 it’s been busy. After running Corbis’ prestigious global Outline and Entertainment divisions until 2008 I decided to retire. And I failed.

What is going on our marketplace and with New Media is too exciting and too interesting. I took a year out to study with some of the best internet marketers and speakers. I wanted to know who makes money in this space, why and how. Next, I focused on implementation. From the day I had the idea for “Photography Business Secrets” to the first dollar it took me 21 days. Today I am the “Photography Business Success Coach” with a growing coaching and consulting practice as well as two information marketing products. “How to Make Money With Stock, everything you ever wanted to know about stock photography,” a system I developed with Jack Hollingsworth educating on the production and the business of stock photography and the “From Clash to Cash System,” designed for photographers who need to jumpstart their businesses. It covers every aspect of a thriving photography business including marketing, selling and strategies. That is how I got to be invited to speak at Cepic.

Today’s presentation was titled “Using New Media Tools To Get Business, not just more friends, followers and fans.” My former colleague and Fast Media Magazine founder Marco Oonk and I presented to a full house of photographers, photography professionals and the who is who in the stock photography industry at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

Our industry is in transformation. Many of us are angry and frustrated at the many changes that we have seen. We are worried that we haven’t seen the end of the tunnel and eye our future with serious concern. It’s the Microstock shooters fault, it’s the buyer’s faults, it’s the big agencies fault – the list of people responsible is seemingly endless.

Let’s dive into this ocean of negativity a little further. Positive mindset and attitude is important for business success and the lack thereof will produce zero dollars. To give you some of our examples, Marco posted on his blog and article in which he listed 100 companies that feature Free Images. As a result he received hate mail that cannot be reprinted. The only one we can even share was ‘you suck’. On my I have received many comments from photographers who criticize that I am using Microstock images and suggested to hire “real, better” photographers. Trends are here to stay and they are not converting back. It’s our customers that are demanding changes and will buy wherever they find what they need.

Still, the negativity in our industry blows my mind and I follow the rule what Wired Magazine says: “What goes on the internet is here to stay.” That means whatever you put out there will remain out there for everyone to see – forever. Unless you plan to never work again for a client you must refrain from making public comments that can be construed as negative, bitter and hostile. Especially when it comes to your potential clients. If your client googles your name and these comments come up you will not ever work again in this town, as we’d say in Hollywood.

Let me sum it up. Fighting our industry or your colleagues, being demeaning, belittling or outright negative won’t help your business, guaranteed.

A reality check is needed for today’s photography professional. The current trends are here to stay. Content volume is sky rocketing while budgets are not. Image prices will not go up but are more likely to continue to diminish. Things will not revert back to the good old days and crying over our prosperous past where only the privileged could afford to be a photographer are long gone and they are not coming back.

As  a photography professional you must learn the rules of New Media and immerse yourself in as many outlets as possible. Play! Have fun and see what works for you. If you are a professional and like to approach it like that then use LinkedIn. If you prefer quick updates then use Twitter, if you are very social and comfortable with sharing much about your life – perhaps Facebook is for you. If you are a photographer you have to get your head around video and subsequently YouTube. Which has since taken over Google search’s top ranking as the number one go-to search engine. It’s a visual business after all.

New Media is everywhere and the way business is done has changed and will continue to do so. From Twitter, Facebook, YouTube to blogging, Skype and LinkedIn, we have so many more new tools and cool gizmos available to us. Our reach has multiplied throughout all media, global territories and multiple genres. We are no longer acting or living our sometimes solitude existences. Every step is watched, commented and critiqued by a fans and followers and our peers.

But, how are you going to monetize your newfound popularity? How will your involvement and time investment pay off and show up as cash in your bank account? Are you one of the many photography professionals that are just not convinced that there is money to be made and that New and Social Media is a colossal waste of time?

Here is the good news. Content use is going up. The number of social media users is going up and 2 million iPads have been sold. Why is this good news?

Your potential and existing clients are also on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you play your cards right and your tweets reach your tweeples you may catch the eye of someone who has hiring power. New Media is an extension of your marketing strategy.

On the business end of things you must keep a few key issues in mind. Is your website really working for you? Are you using one or several licensing models that are viable for your work? Are you innovative and are taking full use of current, new and often free technology. Is what you do still relevant in today’s market place? Have you even thought about what your copyright strategy is or are you still hiding your images from your clients? If you are not sure if what you do works, here is an easy exercise for you. Take out your last bank statement. The number at the bottom in either red or black will tell the story of how successful your current strategy is.

Now with all of that out of the way let’s discuss what the photo professional can do. First step is to get over yourself and your interpretation of what it should be. It’s business after all. It is either working or not. If it isn’t stop doing it. Do more of what works (meaning more cash in your bank account) and less what doesn’t.  If you don’t get involved in what is going on in the industry someone else will. You snooze – you loose.  Be playful and look at New Media as items in your tool box. Some of these tools you will love and they will work well for you while others won’t. Do what you are comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to be narcissistic. In today’s environment you need to strut your stuff. If you don’t someone else will.

Learn the basics of all various mediums and try the popular outlets and look into new and upcoming ones. Embrace free, follow the strategy of give some – take some.

Essential in New Media is creating traffic, capturing leads (who is coming to your website) and a strategy to convert these leads through automatic responders into paying customers.

Most importantly you need to do one thing more than anything else. You must stop talking to your peers and start engaging your existing and potential customers in a meaningful and personal communication. The number one made mistake by photography professionals is an unexplainable avoidance of their own clients. If you don’t talk to them again, someone else will. If your New Media and Social Media strategy hasn’t paned you might not be talking to the right people – your clients.

What will save your business and will make it grow is your great attitude and your positive outlook at what lies ahead. There is always opportunity, in every market during every period of massive transformation. You just have to go and let it find you by actively participating.

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