Thursday, March 22, 2012
Business in a Box
In other news, I was talking with somebody this week and she mentioned that she was starting up a new business. She told me she was going to get business cards and was looking at a website. It's an interesting thing, really, and helpful for photographers, to know that nowadays we can get an entire "business in a box." They really have made it very easy to setup a small business these days.
For starters, there are many web companies that host websites. You do not really need to know a heck of a lot about programming or even HTML to setup a website these days and, frankly, you don't even have to pay a lot. Some of the companies I recommend here are the good folks at VisualServer.com and also the folks at BigBlackBag.com. It's very easy to setup a website for yourself-just decide upon a name, go over to the site, select a template you like, fill in some information to provide minimal content, and *poof* instant website. It might not be the perfect site, but it gets you up and running pretty quickly. It's easy to do this and you can spend your valuable time doing things like adding content, rather than fussing over templates and trying to make the website "look" right (the people behind these type of website hosting services are far better website designers than we'll ever be-trust me on this one. The templates actually look quite nice and work for a variety of small businesses.)
After that, there's Moo. Oh how I love Moo! Let me count the ways. You can upload multiple images into Moo and make your own business cards. They are high quality and again here their user interface is so easy and all setup for you. It takes just a second and Moo cards look wonderful. There's really no reason anymore to hire a graphic designer to do any of this-it's all just presto clicko on the web and *bam* instant business cards.
Once you have your website and cards, you are pretty much in business. It's easy as pie.
In the early days, when I first started as a photographer, I had business cards but I had to go the old school route of making them. I opted to design my own back then (I had nice ones too!) but it took me so long. I had to first design them and then figure out how to go and get them printed. I even had to go to the paper store, purchase the paper for the cards, and then go to the printers and provide the paper for the printing of the business cards. Nowadays? Nope. I just Moo and it's done. Frees me up to do a host of other things and my cards actually look pretty nice. Yes, this business in a box thing is so incredible for photographers.
One thing I have noticed though is that a lot of photographers either don't get business cards made or they neglect to hand them out. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you should purchase a small business card case and keep it with you. Hand out your cards! It may sound old school, low tech, whatever, but it really works. I can't tell you how many people I've handed cards to who I am now still in contact with-they read my blog, visit my website, buy prints, or just touch base in so many ways. Events like the East Austin Studio Tour are a great way to hand out a ton of cards. I routinely go through about 2 or 3 boxes of Moo cards just for those events. And, it's well worth it. I get a lot of feedback, a lot of visitors, a lot of web traffic (which can also translate into dollars) by doing this. It's just such a simple act. When you're talking to somebody hand them a spiffy Moo card with one of your images on it. When you have a show, as if you can leave a pile of cards out. Leave cards at the camera store, at the place where you get your printing done, at the place where you buy your frames, etc. It's cheap and it really gets the word out. The more people who have heard of you, the more likely you are to sell work. Such a simple idea and yet I see everybody walking around with expensive camera gear and no cards! I'm guilty of this myself, as I don't always carry the cards with me and I don't hand them out as often as I should.
Still, you know, this "business in a box" stuff is just great. It allows us to concentrate more on the images (which should be our focus) and makes the marketing a bit easier to swallow especially if you are somebody like me who doesn't really love to do all of that marketing kind of stuff.
Business...box....you! I hope you can make it happen and, if it's been a while since you've done this kind of stuff, I'd recommend you revisit it-times changes and things have gotten a bit easier on us, especially in light of all of this automation and services on the web offered now. The websites today have made our lives a lot easier since they allow companies to provide all kinds of services to us that are simply a click away.
Until next time...