Today marks the day when several other blogs and sites picked up on this blog, something I've been doing for a while, as well as a private insights and counsel I've been giving for years now. However, today I was found by two clients online, at the same time. Interestingly enough, I can be found first on Google's Page 1 for the search term Washington DC Photographer, as well as first on Yahoo's Page 1 for the search term Washington DC Photographer, and second on MSN's Page 1 for the same Washington DC Photographer. Interestingly enough, the person that ranks #1 is someone who formerly worked for me (and good for him!).
My first call was from a magazine that needs an editorial portrait produced, and needed it done for $800. Small circulation, inside use. No problem, for their circulation and the difficulty of the portrait, that's an ok rate, however, I was successful in negotiating that up to $900. While on the phone discussing the details of that assignment, my caller ID clicks. Now, I make it a habit of never clicking over when talking to a client, and many times friends of mine have found themselves on indefinite hold when I clicked away from them to find a client on the other line, and remained (rightfully so) talking to the client. Thankfully, I have friends who are either photographers themselves, or are understanding non-photographers, so no one ever holds it against me. While on the line, I hopped over to my Vonage online account, which tracks, in real time, all inbound calls (and lets me forward my calls with a few mouse clicks to my cell) and discerned that the number that had called me was a 212 #, i.e. New York City.
Again, while getting the details from this client about the first portrait assignment, I took the prefix and first two digits of the inbound calls' number, and passed it to Google, which returned another media organization. The second I got off the phone, I immediately dialed the missed call, and caught the Art Director for another magazine, who had found me online, and who needed a cover photographed within the next 48 hours. I can be almost certain that he was working his way down his list of prospects, panicked that he'd not have a photographer for the cover shoot. I had gotten back to him within 90 seconds of his calling me, and, he was pleasantly surprised that I'd reached him so fast, and we began discussing the assignment, and I was able to book a $1,250 portait for the cover.
The first client located me from a Google search (I always ask the calling client "who can I thank for the referral", and when they say "oh, I found you online", I respond "which search engine, and do you recall your search terms?") and the second via ASMP's Find A Photographer.
In addition to the power of Google/et al, I want to impress upon you, dear reader, of the critical value of the NPPA's Find A Photographer, the ASMP's Find A Photographer, and APA's Find A Photographer, as well as PPA's Find A Photographer. If for no other reason than your inclusion in these, you should be members of ALL these organizations. Today I was talking to a colleague about whether or not they should be an ASMP member. They were considering it because of Find A Photographer, and wanted to know if it was worthwhile. I reported to them that it definately was, in fact, each year I can point to atleast $5k in assignments that came just via ASMP's list, and other revenue from the others. Spending about $1k combined for memberships in all the organizations is not only the best thing you can do for the industry by being supportive of their existence (and also they are deductable from your taxes), but can prove to be a revenue-positive way that you can be found by prospective clients. Clients who have, be their searching for you on a professional trade organizations' site, have usually pre-qualified themselves away from a lowball assignment fee.
Run, don't walk, to those organizations, and join. Join for the revenue-enhancing potential of being in their lists, and reap the benefits of them that you never new existed. I encourage you to share with others your experiences with all the organizations' Find A Photographer in the comments section below, so that others can know how beneficial these things are.
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