Part three of my daily Haiti journal from the February trip.Read More
Video postcard from our recent trip to Grand-Goâve, Haiti.Read More
Days 3 & 4 of our recent trip to Grand Goave, Haiti.Read More
Journal of our first full day in Grand Goave, Haiti.Read More
Made it back safe and sound.Read More
My little video tour of Warren County Winterfest 2014.Read More
Heading back to Haiti next week!Read More
My most recent video assignment.Read More
Guest post from my awesome wife's blog todayRead More
Photo of the day - black & white shot along Kinzua Bridge skywalk.Read More
To fill the gap in our Haiti expenses, I'm offering a ridiculous limited sale on my services.Read More
Ice fishing, ski races, sled dogs, polar plunge, turkey jerky, oh my (freezing balls)!Read More
Lauren & Greg's winter wedding in Warrendale, PARead More
As the year ends, I have a favor to ask...Read More
Happiest of holidays to all!Read More
Continued from yesterday's post.
2013 - The Year of Testing & Trying New Things (or Stumbling in the Dark)
At the end of 2012, I set goals that were all about seeing if it made sense to have a downtown storefront studio space. Whether or not it could sustain itself. Pushing my commercial work out there to the world to get back into larger campaigns and to move away from the retail portrait world.
To sustain the business, I tried a bunch of different paid advertising platforms, both local and national. I also created separate web identities, one for my wedding & portrait work, and one for my commercial work. That's what a lot of people who seem like they're in-the-know recommend.
This means two websites, two Facebook pages... and content to fill each and keep them updated and relevant. Also needed to consider which type of content on which to focus for the OTHER networks like Linkedin, 500px, Instagram, etc... wouldn't want to be off-putting for the creative directors, but also needed to make sure brides could me...
And, well - in the wise words of Sweet Brown:
But that's just one lesson learned in 2013. Here's the rundown:
- I made about $48,000.00 in my first full year back as a freelancer, and all bills were paid without relying on credit.
- Bookings increased from 2012.
- Commercial work started to trickle in, then more steadily at the end of this year.
- I made it to Haiti to start some real passion projects.
- We traveled to Jamaica just for the fun of it - and managed to get some personal photos I'm proud of along the way.
- The studio served as a venue for all sorts of positive activities and classes.
- I had my first gallery show with my Haiti work.
- I was accepted as a Juried Artisan into the PA Wilds Artisan Trail program.
What didn't work?
- About $40,000.00 of that $48,000.00 was entirely gobbled up in operating, advertising and regular business expenses. (but hey, at least I got to keep something)
- The studio went under-utilized much of the year.
- The studio created an incredibly low-value, retail, high-volume perception for my work. I blame this largely on the placement and public perception of a retail studio, a la Walmart & Sears (both now unsurprisingly out of business).
- I wasn't nearly as good at managing my time now that it was all on me to do so, as I'd hoped I would be.
- I didn't get as much of the Haiti story out there for the public to experience as I'd like, and therefore haven't rallied supporters to help the cause much.
- For a full year - every single paid advertising dollar spent was wasted. Not one of the various advertising campaigns I ran resulted in a single penny earned (and yes, I track and measure ruthlessly).
- My social media presence was disjointed, hard to maintain & ineffective when it came to smooth communication.
So this year was good for a lot of reasons, even though there were some big misses. I learned that my best form of marketing is to create good work and deliver it to awesome clients. I'll never waste another penny on paid advertising.
I am doing a bridal show this year in a different market, but if that turns out like the previous three years, I'm going to stop wasting time on those too.
I've begun consolidating my web identities back to simply using my name. Square Peg Round Hole is a fun company name to own, but my work is maturing and I'm feeling more pride in what I do than when I was a less confident newbie.
I started producing more video work, and am particularly proud of this piece... And am currently working on some fun projects that will hopefully inspire a lot of other creatives as well as stimulate the PA economy.
I tried taking off November from social media - but that's also when I released the aforementioned video, which was crazily well-received in those first few days... And I just couldn't ignore all the awesome positive feedback people were sending. So I got back on the wagon & realized that resisting social media would be like betting against the internet in the early '90s.
I also closed my studio space - it was a horrid waste of money and resources. For what I was spending on having that space available each month (and needing it for maybe 2% of my work) I could go to Haiti or Europe once a month and pursue interesting editorial subjects or volunteer work.
So, yeah - that's where I'd rather put my income.
And I'm going back to Haiti in February.
Here's to 2014 - the year of kicking ass.
Looking back at what worked out (and what didn't) over the past year.Read More
Meet Piper, one of our local stewards of the Allegheny River.Read More
I'll be at the Conewango Club's annual Ladies Shopping Night Bazaar on Wednesday - stop on by!Read More
What I'm up to this month...Read More