Monday, 29 August 2011

New Studio. The Story So Far...

October 2010. That's when I first found a studio! Almost a year ago!!!!!!! And I'm still not in... I'm more than a little frustrated.

So I found a place advertised with Lovelle Bacons in Grimsby. Had a look around and decided it was perfect! Big space, little office, kitchen area, toilet, parking.  Perfect.  I negotiated a deal with the landlord to fit some shutters and went ahead with the planning application for change of use.  OK, that process took a while but I got there.  I asked the estate agent (Lovelle Bacons if you missed it) if I needed to sign anything or pay a deposit to secure the proerty and was told no, get the planning approval then we'll talk lease.  At this stage you can probably work out the end of this little chapter but let me fill in the gaps anyway...

So I put my (expensive) application in and waited for it to be approved. Naturally I was in contact with the estate agent throughout.  Once it was all granted I contacted Lovelle Bacons once again to get moving with the lease only to be told that the person I was speaking to had left the company, hadn't written anything down and that the landlord had instructed them to let to someone else. That brought the mood down!

Apparently what Lovelle Bacons did wasn't illegal, but in my opinion it was unethical and definitely unprofessional. Still... you don't get a reputation like theirs by accident.

So I started again.  I looked at a few and found one. Not quite as good as the first, but in a better area and with a reputable agent. I agreed a rent and started the process.  This time I got the lease sorted first and arranged for an agreement to lease subject to everything going through smoothly.

I won't labour the point, but the process officially started on 9th May. I was told it would take 4 - 6 weeks to sort the lease and agreement.  It's now nearly 4 months.  I have no idea what has been taking so long or why it has been delayed, but solicitors are now on my naughty list along with estate agents.

All being well, I get the keys tomorrow. I'll believe it when I have them in my hand though. Watch this space...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Successful Networking

I wrote a while ago (here) about the various networking groups in the area and since then I've got myself a bit hooked! So I thought I'd give you my top tips to successful networking.

Avoid the Farmyard
Pardon???  What I mean is, try to avoid being rabbits, sheep and cockerels. You've seen the types...
- Rabbits (particularly the ones caught in headlights) will walk into a room and look terrified. They don't know anyone, don't have a lot of confidence and won't start a conversation with anyone. Not great for networking. Try not to be a rabbit but if you see one, go and introduce yourself.
- Sheep are followers. They also stick together. They'll walk into a room, spot someone they know and head straight over. That's not really broadening your horizons is it? Get out of your comfort zone and speak to someone new. Maybe a rabbit?
- Cockerels make a lot of noise. They walk into a room, pick the closest person and set their mouth to transmit. They'll tell you everything you need to know about them and a whole load of stuff you don't need to know as well. They will immediately sell sell sell. You're lucky if they ask you name let alone what you do. Do not be this person!

Always. And carefully. People can tell if you're bored so be interested in what they're saying. Don't just go in hoping to sell. Sometimes networking can be good for cheaper or better suppliers, or just good advice. So listen to what other people have to say. You might just learn something!

Stand Out from the Crowd
OK, don't just be a cockerel and be the loudest, but try to be a bit different. Be the one people remember. In some groups there can be more than one person in a particular sector. Which one will people remember? Make sure it's you. I heard a story about a web designer who turned up to a group dressed as Spider Man!  You don't have to be that extreme though.  I've managed to (quite quickly) get a reputation as 'that photographer with the flowery shirts'.  That works well on 2 levels. First, they remember I'm a photographer. And second, they remember me rather than any other photographer. Of course it does mean I always need to have a flowery shirt!

Give it Time
Networking is about building relationships. You're unlikely to find huge repeat business (or much business at all) at your first meeting. It takes a while for people to get to know you as a person, like you and trust you. It's worth the wait though. Once you have someone's trust they are much more likely to recommend you to their friends. Often without having used you themselves.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Nice Package!

So I was trying to work out how to make it easier for me to present my photos to clients, easier for them to choose what they like and easier for me to make more money! And it was suggested to me that I start to offer some packages.  So I did.  They combine a few elements together and offer a real saving to my clients, while at the same time (hopefully) encouraging repeat business.  And the packages are (in chronological order - you'll work it out...):

- A full 2 hour photo shoot with unlimited outfit changes
- An 8x8" coffee table portfolio book with your favourite 20 pictures
- The option to add hair and make-up for an extra charge
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoot
- All this for £150
- saving you a minimum of £50!

Bump to Baby
- 3 shoots.  One at around 26 weeks, one at around 34 weeks and one when your new arrival, erm, arrives
- Your favourite 8x6" photo from each shoot mounted together in a frame
- At least £20 of vouchers including Mothercare, Next and Argos
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoots
- All this for £175
- saving you a minimum of £50!

Baby's First Year
- 4 shoots during your baby's first year - newborn, 4, 8 and 12 months or 3, 6, 9, and 12 months
- Your favourite 7x5" photo from each shoot mounted together in a frame
- At least £20 of vouchers including Mothercare, Next and Argos
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoots
- All this for £175
- saving you a minimum of £60!

Kids' Club!
- 3 shoots over 3 years for the whole family
- A framed 10x8" print from each shoot
- At least £20 of vouchers including Toys R Us, Next and Argos
- 10% discount off anything else you buy from the shoots
- All this for £200
- saving you a minimum of £70!

So if you fancy one, get in touch!