For most of my freelance life – from the mid-1980’s till the early 2k’s I kept a call log next to my office phone. That sentence sounds a bit funny to me today; I don’t even have a phone in my studio anymore, and haven’t since 2002. Anyway, that call log was a list of phone calls I would make on Monday and Tuesday mornings.
I kept track of whether I talked with someone, left a message or got no answer. I guess these were warm calls rather than cold calls, because these were people I had done assignments for but hadn’t heard from in awhile. These calls served as little reminders that I was still out there – working and making pictures. Available – but not too available – for their next project. At the time, everyone was on board with this dance.
I didn’t have a lot of calls to make each day – just two or three and they were brief. I can’t remember the number of times that I would call and hear, “ Hey I am glad you called, I was just thinking of you, are you interested in….? And off I would go with another assignment.
Email and the economic slowdown changed that – everyone had too much stuff to do when they got to the office and stopped picking up. I learned to be creative in my voice mails but I soon stopped expecting a callback. Cell phones made these calls even tougher. Like me, many creatives gave up the office phone and I feel a little weird warm calling people on their cell phones. Hell, I hate it when people call me – so much so, I have a do not answer contact that I put them all into now and I suspect many of my client friends do too.
Social media brought it all back. I started connecting with clients that I had worked for on Facebook, and it was the return of the warm connection. I could see what they were reading, eating or working on, and they saw what I was doing. At least that was the promise early on, with organic reach.
I think Facebook still works but not like it did before they started pushing people to ads. Twitter is much more of a megaphone yelling out, “Hey pay attention to my stuff and it’s here at this bit.ly link.” That might work for some people, but for me it’s more of a publish and read channel.
At least for now – until advertising changes what’s been working – Instagram is a clean channel to show what I’m responding to, what I’m interested in and what I’m working on. On Instagram, clients I have worked for can see a steady stream of my current work, along with my fun pictures or experimental videos. Like a warm call, it lets me remind them that I am still out there, making visual stuff.
It all comes full circle when I bump into them – at a party or café. They already have a sense of what I have been doing and I know what they have been up to, which helps jump start the conversation. Right now, it’s the best way I’ve found to stay up to date.
I do miss those phone calls, when you got to communicate with someone and not just ‘heart’ their photogenic breakfast burrito-gram, but over the past few months, I have connected with long lost creative friends, scheduled creative meetings and received assignments thanks to my Instagram.