Being in business is a lot like being on a trek in the mountains. You’re putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, and you’re not exactly sure you’re on the right path. The conditions change, you question your choices, and you feel good or not so good. You keep going. You’re climbing Mount Visibility, getting the world to notice your business and what you have to offer.
How do you reach the summit without burning out or driving your customers crazy?
1.) Stop hiding.
It’s the hardest step, and it’s not freaking easy. Are you willing to be seen?
Are you ready for it to be embraced, beloved, and generally chatted up like a Kardashian at a champagne mixer in Vegas?
Are you willing for your work to be brushed over, ignored, and misunderstood?
You’ve got to be ready for both sides of the coin when you decide to let your work, your business, your products, and your services truly be visible.
When you stop hiding, you consistently tell the world you’re up to, you promote your work on the regular (the 30-second marketing campaign can help), and you collaborate only when it’s interesting and fun instead of when it’s a “sure thing” but leads only to money, not fulfilling feels in your belly.
2.) Consistently create something worth seeing.
A daily, weekly, or monthly promotion is a great place to start. Ayup, you STILL need a marketing calendar, friend.
Whether you’ve got your Instagram hashtag, a regular blog posting schedule, killer e-mail marketing campaigns, a referral-letter writing regime, or a series of networking events in which you pimp your wares harder than a Venetian with a surplus of blown glass in Renaissance Italy — create something worth seeing.
Yes, you’re a photographer. You expect people to hire you because they’re suddenly hit by the “I need images” fairy’s lovestick, but that’s not how it works. We need reminders that you’re alive, that you’re creating, that you’re a consummate professional who will blow our minds when it’s our turn in front of the camera.
Show us what you’ve created.
Tell us what we can get by working with you.
Let us fall in love with the clients who love you by sharing testimonials.
Help us hire you by telling us how many spots you have left.
Reward us for booking in your off season with prizes, extras, and delights.
In other words…
3.) Woo us, baby. Woo us.
Leave treats behind for your peeps. Reward them for sticking with you, for letting you know what they think, and for paying attention to you on the regular. Free books — in my case, Go Your Own Way: free yourself from business as usual — help.
Whether you share knowledge, inspiration, behind-the-scenes glimpses, funny stories, secrets, insider tips, gorgeous work, or the secret to life on the planet…share. Think of your social media and blog posts and marketing efforts as leaving cupcakes behind on the way to your bakery…or pretzels behind on the way to your hummus volcano…or pages behind on the way to your library. You’re enticing readers to stick around and pay attention. The higher the quality of the woo, the longer they’ll listen.
4.) Thank your peeps and really freaking mean it.
Gratitude is a buzz word like “manifesting” these days, but truly. Be grateful for what you’ve got, because the opposite is off-putting and repels the crap out of people.
I’ve watched colleagues earn what they used to earn over the course of a year in a matter of mere days, then brush it off as if they hadn’t just struck gold. No grand thanks, no weeping, no donations to charity, no celebrations and reveling in success. Just nose-to-the-grindstone business as usual.
How very…uncreative. And boring. And fucking ungrateful. (Yah, I said it. Ungrateful is the WORST.)
Being grateful is nice, but it’s often quiet. I want to see you CELEBRATE.
If you’ve made your corporate salary in the course of a month or even 11.5 months instead of twelve, fucking hold a jello wrestling party for all your friends. Go skinnydipping in an exotic locale. Eat only ice cream for a whole day, then get a 3-hour massage. Race your friends at Go Karts, then play arcade games until you run out of quarters, THEN move the bunk beds to make room for doing more activities, Stepbrothers style.
Don’t give the finger to the universe.
Let the powers that be know that you’re grateful, that you’re enjoying what you’ve got, and that you aren’t going to waste your good fortune by adding more zeroes to your savings account and then quietly going about doing your work in exactly the sort of ho-hum way you do every day.
It robs both you and your colleagues, friends, loved ones, and family members of the opportunity to celebrate the good that life has to offer.
We want to celebrate the good with you.
We want your business to flourish.
We want your life to have meaning.
We want to see your artwork on walls and your products in stores and your calendar all booked out and your pockets full of quarters at Chuck E. Cheese.
We want good things for you.
Help us give them to you, please.
Go on and climb Mount Visibility — and when you get to the top, PLEASE enjoy the freaking view.