Author Archive

Always Let Clients Know What to Expect – In Writing

Posted: March 12th, 2016

[by Blake Discher] Early on in my career, almost every client conflict I encountered was because my client’s expectations were out of sync with what I delivered. Fortunately, over the years, I’ve gotten much better at managing expectations, primarily through written communication instead of verbal. I’ve learned to never give a price over the telephone. [...]

So You Lost the Sale… Now What?

Posted: July 31st, 2015

[by Blake Discher] As a professional photographer, it’s easy to forget you’re actually in business of selling. Sure, you create images, but without sales skills your business is likely to fail because it cannot sustain itself. Selling is difficult. It takes practice to get good at it. Naturally, you celebrate your successes, and with good [...]

Things I’ve Been Told

Posted: May 22nd, 2015

[by Blake Discher] Congratulations, you’re graduating!  Over the years smarter people than myself have been good enough to share their wisdom with me.  One admonished me to share my knowledge, here’s what I’ve got this morning, in bite-sized portions: Build your team from the start. Get a good CPA, attorney, and mentor. Hang with winners, [...]

Don’t Ignore This Book Review

Posted: May 1st, 2015

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have a conversation with a photographer about explaining the value of professional photography or their services to clients.  Now in its 3rd edition, Value Added Selling – first reviewed here seven years ago today – may help you address that issue and more. ~JH [by Blake Discher] [...]

What Are You Selling?  Photography?  Guess Again.

Posted: April 3rd, 2015

[by Blake Discher] One of the oldest adages in sales goes like this: Sell the sizzle, not the steak.  Think about it.  If you’re going out for a steak dinner, there are many less expensive alternatives to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or The Capital Grill.  But these restaurants are filled every evening they’re open.  Why?  Because [...]

This Contract Clause Will Get You Paid

Posted: February 6th, 2015

[by Blake Discher] You’re at your wits end because you blew it… big time. You trusted the client to pay you so you didn’t bug them to pay your customary 50-percent payment in advance. It’s been 60 days since you sent the invoice, your bills are piling up, the rent is due, your son needs [...]

Lose the Addiction to Vanity Metrics

Posted: January 23rd, 2015

[by Blake Discher] Studies continually show that small business owners largely limit their analysis of online data to so-called “vanity metrics” such as the number of Facebook friends or likes, or the number of Twitter followers they have garnered over time. This could be because analytics provided by Google are deemed by many to be [...]

Do Research, Sell Value, and Don’t Quote Hastily

Posted: August 15th, 2014

[by Blake Discher] A Wall Street Journal article explained how travel website Orbitz reviewed purchasing data it had collected and discovered that Mac owners spend, on average, $20 to $30 more per night on hotels rooms than PC users.  Also, users making use of the Orbitz site on a Mac are 40% more likely to [...]

Assistant Wish List? Just Two Items

Posted: May 9th, 2014

[by Blake Discher] I have two criteria for assistants: 1. Never let ‘em see ya’ sweat I was working in Monterrey, Mexico for an insurance company’s annual report in a closed conference room. Four lights, I’m in the center of an open-square table layout capturing candids during the annual board meeting. Both my assistant and [...]

Always Be “On”

Posted: March 28th, 2014

[by Blake Discher] Whenever I’m asked to share a bit of business advice, this is mine: “Every interaction is a networking opportunity.” I don’t mean just business interactions. No, I mean waiting in line at the grocery store. Watching your car go through the car wash. Sitting on a plane on the way to your [...]

Why Doesn’t She Like Me? I’m Not Sure, But I Always Say Thanks.

Posted: January 30th, 2014

[by Blake Discher] It began as a great relationship. She made the initial effort to get in touch! You felt a mutual attraction. The first phone conversation was promising, you thought to yourself, “this just might be the one.” You even told a friend or two about her. You gave her what you thought she [...]

Networking & Negotiating

Posted: October 11th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] Over the last three years or so networking is what enabled my Detroit-based photography business to remain viable. The business changed dramatically as my clients lost their jobs due to layoffs and cutbacks. I was forced to form new relationships and locate new clients. Networking became a priority and I networked everywhere [...]

Early Payment Discounts Smooth Out the Bumps

Posted: September 12th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] About five years ago while working on a job in Mexico in which I worked side-by-side with a video production team, I was given advice that has helped me to get paid faster on invoices. The videographer did quite a lot of government work and shared with me that anytime he invoiced [...]

Repurpose Content Of Course, But Also Repurpose Opportunity

Posted: September 6th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] Non-photographer friends tell me all the time, “You have the coolest job in the world. You get to go places and see things that regular people don’t!” And they’re right. I think we do have the best job… we get paid for practicing the craft we love. Because many of my corporate [...]

There’s No Tax Deduction for Working for Free

Posted: July 26th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] A mistake many emerging photographers make is to think that if they work for free for a charity, they can take an IRS deduction in the amount of what they would have charged had it been a for-profit company.  Any accountant will tell you the only thing you can deduct is the [...]

Responsive Web Design: A Primer

Posted: June 13th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] An important change in website design is happening now, right before our eyes.  Referred to as ‘Responsive Web Design’, it’s a website design approach that keeps an eye toward providing an optimal viewing experience across a range of devices ranging from desktop browsers to tablets to smartphones.  More specifically, it concerns itself [...]

Can’t Get in the Door?  Here’s a Suggestion.

Posted: May 24th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] There have been two times in recent memory I found it impossible to get either a return phone call or email from a prospective client that I knew would be a good match for me.  I tried the usual progressively-clever voice mail messages with no success. I tried smooth-talking the person’s assistant [...]

Impressive Quarterly Newsletter Yields Assignments

Posted: May 7th, 2013

[By Blake Discher] I met Santa Fe photographer and ASMP member Michael Clark several years ago when I visited his ASMP chapter to speak about Search Engine Optimization. A very busy commercial outdoor sports photographer, his work has appeared in advertising for Nikon, Apple, Continental Tire, and countless others. He walks the walk when it [...]

Four SEO Steps You Can Take Now

Posted: April 5th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] Here are four fairly simple steps you can take to improve your website’s ranking in the search engines: The TITLE of your web page. Simply put, this should contain the phrase for which you think most search users will enter when searching for someone who provides your services.  The TITLE should generally [...]

Multiple Income Streams, Easy as 1, 2, 3

Posted: March 27th, 2013

[By Blake Discher] Some economists say the economic climate we’re experiencing today is the new “normal”. There is no fast way to riches, but by creating and diversifying your income streams, you can more easily attain financial security in this “new world economy”. Your primary income stream is likely the business you are running now [...]

That Bridge You Burned? It’s Still Burning

Posted: March 15th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] We all deal with adversity throughout our careers, say, for example, when you lose a big job you were confident you would get.  There’s lots of good advice on what to do when faced with these challenges.  Equally important is what NOT to do… Because I read many professional photography forums each [...]

Sometimes You Just Have To Ask

Posted: January 24th, 2013

[by Blake Discher] It’s been 27 years since Robert Fulghum published, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”  In it he wrote, “Don’t take things that aren’t yours.” An origami artist is suing an abstract painter claiming that the painter improperly used his designs without his consent.  The painter maintains that because [...]

Who Do You Talk To

Posted: October 26th, 2012

[by Blake Discher] After you introduce yourself to anyone, ask them what they do for a living.  They’ll tell you then almost always ask you what you do.  Rewind to three weeks ago: So I’m sitting next to a guy in a plane on the way to the west coast.  Strike up a conversation, ask [...]

Selling in the New Economy

Posted: October 16th, 2012

[by Blake Discher] My chapter in The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography is titled “Selling in the New Economy.”  I start the chapter with the sub-topic that I’ll tell any photographer I talk with these days about business: that we’re salespeople first and photographers second.  Sometimes they’ll agree, other times not.  But eventually, [...]

What I Wish I Knew Back Then…

Posted: August 29th, 2012

[by Blake Discher] I set my sights on becoming a professional photographer at a young age.  I wish I had been told right at the outset to assist for as many different photographers as possible.  One of my assistants told me how much she had learned by assisting that she wasn’t learning in photo school.  [...]

Ask About the Budget? Always!

Posted: June 15th, 2012

[by Blake Discher] Photographers sometimes call me for pricing advice when they get a project that is a bit outside of their normal type of work.  I’ll always ask them, “Did you ask your client what her budget is?”  And they sometimes say, “I didn’t, that question never yields an answer.” Never?  I doubt it; [...]

You Could Hear, “Sorry, Your Children Are Ugly”

Posted: June 7th, 2012

[by Blake Discher] Photographers are not usually the best editors of their own work. The task of choosing which images belong in your portfolio, either online or analog, is often best left to anyone but yourself. We’ve all photographed that executive who woke up grumpy or turned a very boring office into an acceptable background [...]

Talking With the Decision Maker

Posted: March 8th, 2012

[by Blake Discher] When a potential client contacts you for an estimate on a project, you should always try to determine if you are talking to the decision maker.  Ideally, you want that person to hear what value (or differentiation) you can bring to the project. Remember the “telephone game” back in grade school?  If [...]

Are You Really the Buyer?

Posted: September 1st, 2011

[by Blake Discher] Of course, you can’t ask the person on the other end of the phone that question; at least I’d advise against that sort of blunt questioning. But when a prospective client calls on the telephone to ask about your rates for an upcoming project she has, it’s imperative to know you are [...]

Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat

Posted: November 19th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] I have an expression I tell anyone who assists for me, “Never let ‘em see you sweat.” in other words, regardless of what happens on a shoot, let’s keep it entirely professional in the eyes of the client. I recall a young assistant working with me on an annual report shoot in [...]

Don’t be a One Hit Wonder

Posted: October 22nd, 2010

[by Blake Discher] By now, it’s very likely that every client you shoot for  knows about Flickr and other crowd-sourcing photo sites.  Look at crowd-sourcing photography from a client’s perspective.  Think about why some clients look to Flickr for photography instead of seeking out a photographer.    I suspect one of the reasons they even [...]

I am a Salesperson

Posted: September 24th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] Repeating my mantra “photographers are salespeople first, image creators second”, I thought I’d share two of my favorite blogs on the topic of sales. The first, written by S. Anthony Iannarino of Columbus, Ohio, offers straightforward suggestions and tips to help you with just about every aspect of the sales process including [...]

Sweet Dreams

Posted: August 13th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] Suddenly you’re wide awake in the middle of the night. The nightmare was horrible, worse that that monster you thought was under your bed when you were six years old. In the dream, you received a call from a potential client, all they said was, “Good morning, we need a photographer for [...]

Non-marketing Uses of Social Media

Posted: July 29th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] Most of us are now using Twitter and Facebook as marketing tools with varying degrees of dedication and success.  Did you know you can use social media to keep current about industry news or any other topic that interests you? I remember at first being overwhelmed by the vast amount of “information” [...]

Setting Sales Goals

Posted: June 11th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] In my negotiating seminars I always make a point of letting my audience know that in order to be successful, I think we must be salespersons first and photographers second. My sales career began when I sold franchises for a quick-print franchise.  One of the first things I learned was that all [...]

Are You a Good Listener?

Posted: May 6th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] When you’re on that call talking to a potential new client, remember to count to two before you answer any questions or ask new ones.  This two-second buffer will help you to be a better listener because you won’t need to be thinking about what you’re going to say next while the [...]

You Need to be a Salesperson First

Posted: April 8th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] Even in these stressful economic times, your business will be more successful if you are willing to recognize one fact:  you need to be a salesperson first, and a photographer second.  Many photographers take great photographs, but far fewer excel at sales.  When I speak to audiences about negotiating, I’m always quick [...]

Don’t Forget to Ask For Referrals

Posted: April 1st, 2010

[by Blake Discher] One of the best and least expensive ways to grow your business is through referrals.  But for a variety of reasons, most people are reluctant to ask for them. Maybe it’s fear of hearing “no”.  Maybe they think happy clients will just spread the word about “their favorite photographer” without any prompting [...]

Get Powerful Info for Pricing Jobs

Posted: March 8th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] When a new potential client calls on the telephone, one of the first things I do is look up the caller’s website. What I’m looking for are two things:  their level of design sophistication and how they’re currently using photography.  These two bits of information can give valuable clues to what sort [...]

Please Release Me

Posted: February 19th, 2010

[by Blake Discher] Many photographers forget  that their websites are a form of advertising and as such the individuals in the images must be released.  ASMP has Property and Model Releases on it’s site, available to anyone, at  I keep copies of the simplified release in my camera bag and in my car’s glovebox.  [...]

Read These!

Posted: October 30th, 2009

[by Blake Discher] Non photo-centric blogs that get my nod:  Photographer Bruce DeBoer (@brucedeboer) writes an absolutely superb blog about creativity.   Marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog at is read by just about every member of ASMP’s National board.  And for the latest in technology, both current and speculative, check out It’s hard to not [...]

Flash Site? Use Off-Page Optimization

Posted: August 14th, 2009

For me, the search engines (primarily Google) bring me about 60-percent of my new clients each year.  I work hard to keep my site high in the rankings. You should optimize your site for the keyword phrase that you think clients needing your type of photography will enter into the search engine.  But what if [...]

Didn’t Get the Job? Say Thanks!

Posted: June 19th, 2009

Want to be remembered by the potential client with whom you’ve just had an unsuccessful negotiation?  Take the time to send a “Thank You” card.  That’s right, a snail-mail Thank You card.  Create a one off, nice looking card on your color printer on nice paper, and hand write a note, something like, “Thank you [...]

Content is King

Posted: June 3rd, 2009

In the world of search engine optimization, or SEO, content is king.  What we’re talking about is human readable HTML text on your home page. One of the major search engines has stopped considering the “Keyword” META tag because of keyword spamming by website owners in an attempt to manipulate their search rankings.  For example, [...]

A Common Website Mistake

Posted: May 22nd, 2009

Speaking of Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The content of a website’s <title> tag is what is displayed in the top-most bar of a browser window when someone is looking at your site.  The tag is given significant weight by search engines in their effort to figure out exactly what a site is about.  As I [...]

Don’t Ignore This Book Review

Posted: May 1st, 2009

The second edition of Tom Reilly’s Value Added Selling: how to sell more profitably, confidently, and professionally by completing of value, not price (McGraw-Hill ISBN: 0-0714088-19, 256 pages) boasts 70-percent new content from the first edition.  I was given my copy by a fellow airline passenger who had finished it while on a flight we [...]

Are You Talking With The Boss?

Posted: April 17th, 2009

A sometimes overlooked, but very important factor in any negotiation is making sure the person to whom you are speaking is in fact the decision maker.  If he isn’t you ideally need to get that decision maker involved in the negotiation. One method I use to tactfully determine if the person I’m talking with is [...]

Knowledge is Power in a Negotiation

Posted: March 30th, 2009

Part of preparing for any negotiation is preparing yourself. Knowing the market, both geographic and specialty, in which you’ll be competing is critically important. A very handy tool right on your desktop is your computer. Mine is always on, always connected to the Internet, and I use it when a new client calls for a quote. As [...]