Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.
Question 1: Editorial Late Fee
Is it possible to add late fee’s to editorial invoices? If so, what is considered standard or even acceptable? Would this even persuade them to pay within 30 days? It seems now, more than ever, that more and more magazines are dragging out payments 60+ days.. a few, even 90+ days. What can change this insane way of doing business?
Established Editorial Photography Team:
We’ve had very few problems with our editorial clients. Every once in a while payment gets dragged out, but it’s usually because the editors are so short-handed that they forget to submit something or it bounces back from accounting for some insane reason and they’re not around to deal with it immediately. God forbid anyone from accounts payable email us directly if they need a W9 or something ;)
I guess we’ve been lucky. We have not resorted to forcing our editorial clients to agree to payment terms. We don’t think it would be very enforceable. We already feel like we’re walking a tightrope with these jobs. The photo editors who we are trying to build relationships with have no control over the other parts of their magazine. New clients get assumptions from us that things will go smoothly. If they are slow to pay or drag things out, we won’t accept future assignments from them. Simple as that.
We did an editorial assignment through Aurora back in November. We’re not represented by them, but we covered the job for a friend….kind of a last minute emergency. We just got paid today. We were about to send them to collections….it was getting really ugly.
SVP – Finance Major Editorial/Publishing Company:
Very few large companies will ever pay late fees on anything.
A better approach is to offer a slight discount for fast payment (i.e. – 2% if paid within 20 days). In effect, that becomes a positive incentive.
Amanda and Suzanne:
Read the terms and payment agreement of the company who is hiring you. Ask the questions about payment upfront and know what you are getting involved. Invoice the project immediately. Unfortunately it’s a leap of faith with a new publisher, you do not know what you are getting into until you do the shoot and wait for the check to be cut. But don’t be afraid to call up accounting and find out where your check is after 30 days.
Question 2: Marketing
Next month I’m sending the first in what will be a series of postcard promos, a first for me. I’ve done email promos in the past, and I have a sense for what industry standard open and click through rates are in the email world, but I don’t really have a sense for what response rates postcards generally yield. Clearly it’s easier to track response rates with opens and click through, but my plan is to include a trackable ‘call to action’ on the back of the postcard (visit this URL, give me a call, etc.) that will give me something to track. In Amanda & Suzanne’s experience, what would they recommend in terms of a system for tracking the success of a postcard campaign? Is there an accepted response rate range that would be considered the average for me to measure my success against, assuming that I’ll be sending a postcard every 1-2 months for the next year?
I ask because my photo industry mentors are on one of my shoulders these days, saying What you need is consistency, with postcards and emails and portal presence and portfolio showings; and on the other shoulder are my MBA-type business mentors, questioning my marketing budgets and asking me questions that I can’t answer, like What’s your expected return on investment for your postcard campaign?
Amanda and Suzanne:
The first question we want to ask is how fabulous do your mailers look (feel free to send to us)? The mailers have to be dynamic, but of course you know this already. So assuming they are amazing you should see about 1% results of your contacts to your website. If you can send out consistently and continue marketing for a long period of time your mass marketing will deliver results in the long run, but we would recommend expecting no return for over 1 year. Can you risk that investment and understand your return is in educating your market right now? If you get work within the first year – you have won the marketing lotto. Not putting all your eggs in one basket–be sure to do more–you will get your best results from showing your portfolio either in person or electronically and connecting personally. Ps – never ask if you call for a meeting if they remember receiving your mailers, let them tell you.
To answer your question, if you get 1% of the total number of people to your site the day it’s received, you can rate your mailing a success.
We think to reach your audience in a better way you should send personalized e-mails, pick a hand full of people you would love to work with and send them a personalized e-mail with your e-promo. E.g. Cindy Hicks, The Martin Agency- Dear Cindy, I love the work you all have done for Geico, Wal-mart and Seiko. I would love to work with you all one day. Here is a link to my website. It shows you have done your research and is also utilizing your database in the most effective way.
Question 3: Animal Shooter
I am a recent graduate, and halfway into my college career, I discovered my passion for photography through shooting animals. I’ve won a few awards for my work, and have been given very positive feedback from my peers and teachers. I feel so strong about my work with animals, that I have decided to focus solely on this very narrow niche. Now I’m done with school, and I don’t know what to do with my work, or if my work is going to pay the bills! (right now, its not!) Currently, I am trying to get work through private clients photographing their pets. I’d eventually like to work for commercial clients, but don’t know how to go about getting those clients. I’d love to work with an agent, but know this isn’t the right time in my career for one- or is it? I’ve researched photographers who also shoot animals, and it seems they also cover other genres like kids and weddings. I’d like to focus on just my animals because this is my true passion, but am afraid of having all my eggs in one basket. Also, what city might I be most successful with this?
Amanda and Suzanne:
Are you willing to do consumer? The Consumer will balance your waiting period to make it and help you build your portfolio. We would also shoot the consumer clients and produce them as you would for an advertising client – so you can build up your portfolio. Example: Milk Bone- Have the box and give it to your dog subject and see what they do. Have them in a fabulous kitchen with a doggie door (of course location scouting is crucial). Also find some animal trainers and wranglers and get them to shoot with. From checking our your site – you have something very cool going on with creature compositions. If you look at Amanda Jones who is strictly dogs and a few cats, Jeff Moore– dogs and kids- they have done a lot of consumer portraits but have been asked to shoot advertising assignments because they are specialist in their field. And then there are photographers like Steve Grubman, Nick Vedros, Karen Morgan and Craig Perman who have diversified to other genres so they are more likely to get advertising assignments since they don’t do consumer. Also, you may want to create a “buzz” with your work like doggie Gaga (www.jessefreidlin.com) he was mentioned on so many shows like The Today Show and Live with Regis and Kelly.
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