911 What is Your Photo Emergency?
Did you ever have those times in your life where you really needed help but you didn’t know where to turn? I know I have. My feelings of helplessness are sometimes compounded by running a small business that creates storytelling media for nonprofits.
We don’t really like to talk about our failures or how often fear runs the show for freelancers. But I have to admit that there have been times I’ve accepted bad deals because I was afraid losing a job or jobs where my photography was used in ways I didn’t like. I think this is pretty common for media makers as we walk the line between good business practices and paying the bills.
I spent years working in this industry without having a support system and I didn’t always make the right call. I learned a few painful lessons along the way. But I’m (almost) grateful for the mistakes. They are the touch points in my career that help me make better decisions today.
The number one thing that has helped me make good choices in the last three years is simply picking up the phone. Laura and I call this the “911 Call”. It’s pretty simple: when one of us is struggling with a big decision about a job – we call each other.
Laura has helped me have confidence in pricing my work and given me a clear understanding of how image licensing works. I’ve helped her stand her ground when negotiating copyright issues in her contracts and figure out just the right way to word emails without turning off potential clients.
This phone call has helped me walk away from numerous deals that just weren’t good for my business. It’s also allowed me to move forward with a job when a solution was offered that I’d never considered. Having that support system is all I need to make the best decisions for my business. Perhaps all you need is a community (or even one person) that believes in the value and integrity of your work.
What systems do you have in place for making sound business decisions? I’d love to know if you have a “911” friend who helps you out and how that has affected your business? If you don’t have one yet, what areas do you think an emergency buddy would help?