Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Leveraging Your Photography Business
As a photographer you can leverage yourself in many ways including employees and associates.
Making Money And Leverage
I believe it was Archimedes who purported to have said “Give me a place to stand and I shall move the world”. He was talking about leverage, and to make money, a lot of money, it helps to use leverage. In building a photography career that you want to support yourself with, leverage is a key ingredient and there are a number of ways to go about that task. The key is to pick the method of leveraging that is compatible with who you are, and the life you want to lead, and go for it.
Leveraging yourself can be as simple as providing yourself with the right equipment, or establishing a strong brand, or as complex as hiring a workforce or being a conduit for the work of other photographers. Over the years I have tried my hand at a number of ways of leveraging myself with varying degrees of success.
Leveraging Through Equipment
Early on in the world of digital photography I experienced the benefits of leveraging when I purchased a scanner. It was a Scanmate 5000, a 5000 dpi desktop drum scanner that cost of $50,000.00. I got a free trip to Denmark to learn how to use it to boot! The lease payments on that scanner cost me $1,000.00 a month, but I earned several times that amount every month by charging clients for scanning, scanning images for other photographers, and having increased access to scanned files (this was before digital capture) for my stock photography.
Leveraging Through Building Your Brand
In fact, pulling the trigger on buying that scanner helped me leverage my photography business in another way as well. In those early days of digital photography, the early 90’s, I was able to establish myself as a leader and pioneer in the digital arena, something that resulted in my being able to get more clients (I was doing assignment work back then), charge higher prices, and be the recipient of free software and equipment (I was once given a $45,000.00 digital camera back on the provision that I shared my positive experiences with it at trade shows).
Leveraging Through Employees
I leveraged my business further when I had employees. At one point I had five people working for me…which certainly did leverage my business, but didn’t suit me as a person very well. I hated being the boss and taking on all of that responsibility. I could never, for example, leverage myself the way Yuri Arcurs has so successfully done.
Leveraging Through Timeless Stock Photography
I remember when I first began to produce stock photography it was because I felt I could leverage my business by creating timeless images that would earn me money even when I was on vacation. That theory is still working, though as we all know, not quite as well as it once did!
Leveraging Other Photographer’s Work
Eventually that led to becoming a conduit for other photographers’ work, something that continues to bring me additional income to this day. The key to making that effort work is in finding the right contributors. For me, this means talented, independent, self-motivating photographers who feel they can leverage themselves by taking advantage of what I have to offer, be it equipment, ideas or distribution channels.
Leveraging That Works For You
Now I am leveraging my business on the Internet through uploading content and SEO efforts (including this photo blog), seeking new revenue streams for my imagery with everything from coffee mugs and T-shirts to greeting cards to stock licensing and even to advertising (Google Adwords) income. Leveraging your business works, and there are many ways to do it. You just have to find what works for you.