Are you an artist or an attention whore?

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on August 20, 2014

in This is Business,This is Life

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Okay, normally I’m not so hard on you guys.

But I’ve got to give you some tough love for a minute – it’s for your own good.

Some of you don’t want to be professional photographers.

You’re reading PTP, you’re taking some photos, you’re dreaming of the camera gear you want to have and the professional image and recognition that comes with owning your own creative business.


If you’re stagnant – if you’re procrastinating on launching, or finalizing your pricing, or perfecting every pixel of your web site instead of hustling paid photo shoots…you have to ask yourself an important question:

“Am I an artist or an attention whore?”

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What a street beggar can teach us about marketing and sales

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on August 6, 2014

in News

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How about this:

A peddler can stand at any intersection here in San Antonio and bank more tax-free money in a half hour than I can after taxes in two at my day job.


F8 and Be There, mates: he is where his clients are with a compelling message that inspires them to take action, to put their money into his pocket.

It’s not his art: he has no product per se, other than the feeling of compassion and giving which his clients enjoy when they contribute to his life.

It’s not his business: he has a process for acquiring clients, but it’s not his policies or procedures or follow-up: his clients are sold on investing in him before the exchange of value is even made.

His marketing is basic, inelegant, but in arguably effective – and here’s the powerful secret: he asks.

He asks.

He holds his sign, stands dead center where his clients are, and looks them straight in the eye.

He asks for the business. He asks for the sale.

And he doesn’t get it.

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One simple system for success

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on August 5, 2014

in This is Business

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There is no greater knowledge-for-the-buck value than books.

And there is no more self-destructive thing we do than failing to act on the things we learn.

You and I are going to break that cycle…

Right now.

STEP 1: Go buy a book on small business marketing. Any good one (whether from a list of recommended titles from a mentor, or Amazon’s bestseller list, or one of my favorites: Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Sales, Booked Solid, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook).

STEP 2: When that book lands in your Kindle or in your hands, STOP. STOP EVERYTHING. You are about to commit for the umpteeth time a crime against your business and your own success: you’re going to start reading, read here and there until you finish the book, then feel inspired as you put the book aside and NEVER TAKE ACTION. I’ve done it hundreds of times over the last 15 years. STOP. Don’t read a page of that book until you can sit comfortably, focus, take your time. Make handy a writing surface, something upon which to write, and a good pen or pencil, as well as a highlighter.


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How to price your photography, Part II

July 29, 2014
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If there’s one thing we part time photographers never get bored talking about, it’s pricing our work.

But I’m going to digress from talking about pricing, because your pricing isn’t the problem:

You’re trying to scratch your butt by brushing your teeth.

It’s been five years since I wrote my (some say controversial) post on What to charge for your part time photography, and you awesome readers have asked me if my advice still stands today.

In the historic words of fellow Bandera Texan and Classic Western actor Rudy Robbins:

It do.

My philosophy on pricing your work is to be humble: recognize the unique value you create, understand that value will grow over time and practice, and look at pricing as more a tool for managing your calendar than your profit margin.

I could introduce a lot of nuance into this conversation, but here are my practices, some simple if-then-else’s, boiled down to the bones:

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Is your success muscle atrophied?

July 21, 2014
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My success muscles have been atrophied for most of my adult life.

And I don’t think I’m alone in that boat.

When was the last time you had a win?

I mean a big, fist-pumping, heel-kicking, shout-it-from-the-rooftop victory.

I’m not discounting the peace of being grateful for your daily life – your day job, your family, your recreation. Learning to celebrate the small and simple things of life has made mine immeasurably better.

But you’re reading PTP right here, right now, because you’re not where you want to be. Either with your art, or with your business, or more than likely, both.

You want to put some big marks in your Win column.

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Accountability is the plateau killer

June 30, 2014
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Like skydiving and asking a girl to dance, sometimes you have to experience a dreaded act before you realize how awesome it can be.

Accountability has always been that way for me.

I grew up an only child, homeschooled, with one real friend (and a handful of seasonal cousins).

I was a loner by environment, which grew to be my nature. I became extremely self-sufficient, from my education to my life and entertainment.

Unfortunately, I missed those early lessons of teamwork and the power of accountability.

Only in the past six months have I experienced how accountability can move mountains in my life.

My vision of accountability as a tool for reaching goals was of an overzealous (and way too perky) fitness trainer calling me at the butt crack of dawn to yell at me to go run.

Or my mom asking me if my underwear is clean. Every day.

Or some overly helpful friend, in whom I would confide my desire to lose a few pounds, then criticizing my every meal choice and telling me to eat more fiber.

Until I finally experienced it, I never imagined accountability to be such a powerful, completely enjoyable way to turn my dreams into reality.

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Why courtship matters in marketing

June 2, 2014
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As usual, let’s start with the end in mind.

(As opposed to starting with the how, then trying to make it fit the why!)

On any marketing campaign, you want to have an ultimate goal – whatever tactics you employ, you need a goal action you’re moving potential clients to take.

“I want them to give me their money, of course!”

Courtship first, Romeo.

Many startup business owners want their marketing to explode with a Direct Response – someone sees your ad / post / card / postcard / portfolio / fan page / contest, and immediately calls or e-mails to book a shoot and throw bennys at you.

This is also why most newly-minted professionals can’t get a critical mass of clients on board and stay booked solid.

And the simplest, most common Direct Response campaign is… A BIG SALE! Immediately devaluing the product or service, and catering to the least profitable, least loyal, most demanding and problematic clientele.

No wonder so many good artists burn out so fast when they try to go pro.

If we want to avoid chasing the quick sale, we have to court the relationship.

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