The Price We Pay…

Tim Anderson-The Dress

In the last Red Dog News Update I announced the beginning of what I called Print of the Week. For one week I would offer one of my prints in a small, un-editioned, unsigned, flat, no matting format for only $45, including shipping. I received several notes that were critical of my decision to offer my prints at such an affordable price. The thought was I should be offering them at much higher rates.

My first print (above) on offer was “The Dress.” I have sold several of these prints at much larger sizes and a bit higher pricing. Since that first offering I have sold about a half-dozen of them at the affordable price. If you would like to purchase the next image in this series, just click on the P.O.W. tab in the header, above.

There are many schools of thought on the pricing issue. Some say high. Some say low. Some say whatever the market will bear. My good buddy Brooks Jensen (LensWork) is in the affordable price arena. I’m with him. The question consistently raised is “Would you rather sell 25 prints at $45 or one print at $450?” If I sell 25 prints, then 25 people get to enjoy my work, and they will hopefully tell their friends, and so on.

If I sell one print, then only one person gets to enjoy the work and the “word” will not get out as rapidly and in as wide of an arena as the previous example. I would also make more than $1,000 on the more affordable price point.

Brooks will be sharing much more of his thoughts on this subject in the May/June 2016 issue of Shadow & Light Magazine.

In this age of digital push-button printing, once the work is done, it really doesn’t take much effort to push the “Print” button to get a perfectly-produced print. Each print will look perfect, barring, that is, mechanical challenges.

My usual work-flow goes like this once I have finalized all aspects of post-production:
• Print 15 prints at about 16×20 or 20×24-inches. I don’t consider this a limited-edition print because if the demand is there I will print more.

• Print a handful of smaller sizes for arenas like the new Print of the Week series.

That’s about it.

What are your thoughts on this never-ending sensitive subject?

Careful what you say…

red-dog-news-crowd-graphicWe’re going to take a break from newsletters, to give a shout-out to my friend, David Bram. Last week on Facebook he listed his favorite New Mexico photographers. Well, as you might guess, less than 10-minutes had passed when he was receiving many notes about photographers he had not mentioned.

Even though he had been clear that this was his list, I am sure some people felt slighted. Which brings me to the topic of this post. No matter how many mentions you make of just about anything, you will miss something or someone. It doesn’t matter if you created a list of hundreds, you will leave out some. It is just the nature of the beast.

I probably know at least 50 or so photographers who would deserve a place on that list, but when I took a close look at it, again, after the dust had settled, only a handful of my people made it. Now, that is not to say that his list was of a higher caliber than the photographers I know. It’s just that we each have our own circle of friends and acquaintances. I have mine, you have yours. David has his.

The bigger point of reading that list, however, is how much it illustrates the abundance of talent who call New Mexico their creative home. Since David’s original posting I am sure the “complete” list is now at least doubled. I am sure most of you realize, as well, that no list can realistically be considered “complete.”

So, kudos to you, David, for being brave!

 

Email Newsletters: an introduction: part three

OK. You have made the decision. You are going to send out email newsletters to your fans. Good for you! It doesn’t matter whether it will be sent to 24 or 240 or 2,400. Oops! That last number just slipped out. It took me a few years to rise above that number, but the message is the same. The message is also the same no matter whether you are addressing the first or last number.
Email Newsletter Platforms
We move on, now, to platforms (above), those entities that will take care of putting it all together and sending it out. You have many choices, but you should also have a few questions.
• What is the cost?
• Can I get a Free trial?
• How many contacts do I need?
• Is customer support responsible and “human?”
• Do they have good statistics?
• How do they rate against competitors?

Fortunately, in this age of instant information, the answers to these questions are fairly close at hand.

Most of those providers will offer a free (or limited) level, usually allowing no more than a few hundred contacts. You should take advantage of that offer, at least in the beginning stages of your quest. Depending on the level of your anticipated growth, make sure that their levels fit your needs. Most should be more than happy to offer clear explanations of those contact and pricing levels and guide you through the process. If they don’t, move on!

Besides ease-of-use, I think the most important feature should be how sophisticated are their statistics? Do they offer information on opens, both unique and actual? Can you access click-through rates? Can you compare your campaigns? Can you figure out where each newsletter was opened, geographically? Can you get an email list of those who clicked on certain sections of the newsletter so you can send them a more targeted message? Most of the time, in the “Free” stage you will receive limited access to many of the features that are available to paid customers.

Since, structurally, they are mostly very similar, the final decision can be made very simply. Find out who in your circle is using any of these platforms and ask them what they think. You can also ask those people who send you email newsletters. If they are small operations you can usually talk to the owner. Take a closer look at the newsletters you receive. Pay attention to things like the headers. Are they attractive? Do they “grab” you? How does the body of the newsletter “read?” Do you like the design of the layout? You can use all this research when you begin your newsletter.

At the present time I use both Benchmark and Mail Poet, which is a WordPress (WP) plugin. I use Benchmark for Red Dog News and Mail Poet for an email newsletter I send out to Shadow & Light Magazine newsletter subscribers. In the past I have also used Constant Contact and Mail Chimp. Mail Poet is the new kid on the block but is catching up rapidly, and I am hoping that I will utilize them much more in the future simply because they are a WP plugin.

As always, if you have any questions or considerations, let me know.

You can click on the PC Magazine link, below, to read the reviews of all those mentioned in the graphic.

More>>>

 

A Website is Your Best Bet For Exposure

Gallery show-miscYou have previously read my comments about the importance of having a website. The impetus for writing this post came about in a very familiar way for me: reading about it elsewhere.

My good friend Alyson Stanfield has a new post in which she writes about overhearing two curators discussing an upcoming exhibition.

“Last Sunday I went to hear two curators talk about how their new exhibition came together. What was fascinating (and not surprising) was to hear how strongly the artist’s statement and website were considered during the process. The curators emphasized repeatedly how important the statement was to help explain the work. They then described how they used an artist website to shine light on anything they were unsure about.

The statement and website were even more important when they were on the fence about whether or not to include the work.”

In the course of reviewing work for upcoming issues of Shadow & Light Magazine, I had to do the same thing. Aside from the submissions we receive, my art director and I visit many platforms in search of great work by photographic artists. We are often left wanting.

Many times the person only has a Facebook page, or a blog, or any number of other platforms that really don’t present their work in a compelling manner.
red-dog-news-websites-post-smithson
A website (above) completes the process and illustrates to the viewer that you take your creative pursuits seriously. I feel the same way as the curators mentioned above. When I decide to publish an artist’s work it is because I can readily see that they are serious about what they do. They care about their work and how it is viewed. They have a site that is easily navigated and work is presented in a manner that illustrates the quality of the work with little (if any) distraction.

In the above illustration, Aline Smithson has decided to have the simple unfettered look, one that is easy to navigate and simple to understand. There is a slideshow beneath the header that illustrates the breadth and quality of her work.

There are many template platforms that make it very easy and affordable to create your own site. This may be (next to creating the art) the most important decision you will make in advancing your creative career.

Good luck!

 

 

Photographic inspiration comes from many sources

An American history of the nude as artAs I look back over this ever-so-quickly disappearing year, I am reminded of how my creativity was sparked earlier in the year by a group of shadows on my dining room wall. Inspiration can come from many sources, a thought, a vision, the way the wind plays with a branch, a full moon coming from behind a cloud. You know them. You have seen them and more.

If you are a figure photographer, like me, sometimes inspiration can seem to disappear. What do you do then? How can you rekindle the flames of creativity? One of the ways I do it is to go to my library and pick out a book that just might serve as a hard-back muse.

One such book I recently pulled out from that dusty shelf was NAKED: The Nude in America (right), by Bram Dijkstra (Rizzoli USA, $45 2010), and I have to tell you, even though I have turned its pages many times this book is a treasure trove of inspiration! Covering sculpture, painting, photography, caricature, cartoons, and even a handful of visual extremists, and other forms of portraying the nude in American art.

The author is a cultural historian, rather than an art critic, refusing to separate “high” and “low” art, charting instead such momentous historical events such as the discovery of pubic hair, the invasion of the pin-up queens, “the inexorable rise of the breast” during the 1950s, and the puzzling fluctuations of American  prudery. (from cover end flap)

With more than 420 illustrations this is an incredibly wide-ranging representation and survey of the male and female nude throughout American history. The back cover photograph is the iconic picture by Judy Dater of Imogen Cunningham preparing to photograph Twinka (1974, courtesy of the Scott Nichols Gallery). On the Title Page, Arthur Tress has a photograph of Twinka at Age 45. This is a good precursor to illustrate the importance photography has had in defining the nude in art.

Granted, American art has nowhere near the history of longevity as does European art, but what we do have is second to none, as far as art is concerned over the last several hundred years. As a photographer of the nude, I sat the book on on my desk, and about three hours later I turned the last page. While my collection of books about the nude numbers more than a hundred, Naked: The Nude in America, has quickly become a favorite.

What photographer of the female nude could not be inspired by the three images (left to right: Indian Maiden at a Spring, George Platt Lynes, Elizabeth Gibbons with Umbrella and Mask, William Robinson Leigh, Indian Maiden at a Spring; Abraham Leon Kroll, Nude Back; Benjamin Rutherford Fitz, The Reflection) below:

Naked: The Nude in AmericaNaked: The Nude in America      Naked: The Nude in AmericaNaked: Nude Back, Kroll

This is a genuine coffee table book. At 10×11.5-inches, and with illustrations in excess of 420, you are not going to be able to slide this one into your pocket. Be advised, once you put this book on your “must-have” list carve out some time that you can spend slowly turning its 476 pages. Buy Naked, here.

Do you have a book that you have, or are currently using for inspiration? I shared mine… it’s your turn. Let me know what inspires you to a much greater level of inspiration and success.

It’s time: Color It Red 2016

red-dog-news-color-it-red-2015-best-in-showAs a result of many requests Color It Red will continue with Color It Red 2016. This will be the fifth annual edition of this very popular photography contest. Over the years more than 400 world-wide photographers have entered with more than 150 having their work displayed at RedDogNews.com. For the second year in a row the Juror’s Choice Award will include publication in a future issue of Shadow & Light Magazine. Places 1, 2, 3 will have their selected entry displayed in a full-page format in a future issue the magazine.

You can get full details and the opportunity to take advantage of the Early Entry fee by clicking the “Color It Red 2016” tab at the top of this page.

Color It Red 2015 Results:
Best in Show:  Les Levres Rouge, Carla Berger (pictured, above) (Shadow & Light Magazine Showcase Portfolio, Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 camera bag)
First Place: Dia de los Moo-uertos, Amy Ditto (Think Tank Perception Pro camera bag, LensWork Gift Pack)
Second Place: The Curtain Opens, Dale Niles (Red River Photo Paper $150 Gift Certificate, LensWork Gift Pack)
Third Place: Harbor Reflections, Julita Lucas (Think Tank Gift Pack, Red Dog News Showcase Gallery Placement)
Fourth Place: Diner Abstract, Barbara Leven (Think Tank Gift Pack, Red Dog News Showcase Gallery Placement)

Good luck!

Email Newsletters: an introduction: part two

Guy at computerOK. You’ve decided this something you want to do. You are an artist, after all. Right? You create work you want to be seen, and possibly even purchased. In the last post we talked about deciding to even do this: send out a newsletter, that is.

The decision has been made, but where do you go from here? Now, you need to decide on a platform. There are many from which to choose, many being perfectly acceptable. Here are a few guidelines to address when selecting the platform for your newsletter (ESP, email service provider), :

Who Is Your Audience?
Before choosing an ESP, it’s important to understand the scope of your needs. How small/large is your target distribution list? Will you need support tools to help build that list? Your strategy for gaining new prospects will need to be addressed at the outset.

What Would You Like to Send Them?
After you’ve identified your audience, you’ll need to figure out the types of email you’d like to send them. When selecting an email marketing platform, you should look for one that offers ease of use in creating emails, along with the ability to customize your content. For example, will you be sending the same email to everyone on your list, or do you need to personalize the content for different types of users?

When (and How Often) Do You Want to Send?
Companies of all shapes and sizes tend to love email marketing because it is reliable, consistent, offers high return on investment (ROI), and is highly scalable when the right formula is reached. We also need to remember that in the beginning we might not want to inundate our readers with too many offerings. I feel it’s best that if you consider yourself a strict newbie you should start out with maybe a quarterly campaign. You can always move it to more frequent release, which signifies success rather than cutting back on releases which could denote a loss of business and/or interest.

Why Are You Emailing Your Customers?
Part of the email marketing software selection process should be to evaluate the level of social media integration you’d like with your email program. Combining multi-channel marketing strategies—like email + social—can help achieve higher message penetration rates than a single channel approach. It also allows for a two-way conversation in your direct-marketing efforts. After all, email is just having a direct, albeit, one-way conversation with your audience. Incorporating social media elements like Share buttons, Facebook and Twitter feeds, etc., can turn that one-way conversation into a more engaging back and forth with your customers.

How Much (Service, Support, and Features) Do You Need?
Not all providers offer the same level of service. While most will give you the basic tools along with a means for submitting support tickets, others provide additional services (or even full service) options at an additional cost. Depending upon how user-friendly your provider’s email-building and -sending tools are, and how complex your email campaigns are, you may not need more than the basics.

This is just a group of suggestions to get you thinking in the right direction.

Next: Platform comparisons…

Email Newsletters: an introduction: part one

What is a Newsletter, and Why Would You Want to Offer One?

red-dog-news-email-newsletters-graphic-01I have been involved in newsletters for more than 25-years, in both print and electronic formats.

For the sake of this post, however, I’ll be talking only about email newsletters (electronic), since this is the product that the majority of small businesses like you and me should be utilizing.

In addition to the content on your website (that is a whole other topic!), from time to time you should be sending out broadcasts about new work, trips, your wonderful insights, etc. When you are in the beginning stages of setting up your newsletter, you will ultimately be offering your audience a way to subscribe so they can receive your notes and newsletters.

At this point you may be thinking, “What is the point of doing all this work?”

A good question deserves an even better answer… your email list.

When you offer a subscription to your newsletter, you’re enabling yourself to be able to capture email addresses. It’s important to capture email addresses because:

  1. It’s a great way to communicate with your audience on a more personal level. There’s just something about receiving an email from somebody that makes it extremely effective at getting a point across, or making people take some kind of action.
  2. An email list will never die. In other words, if you have an email list, you will always have a way to communicate with your audience. Blogs and websites can die. RSS readers and feed subscription services could vanish. But, those email addresses will never change and you can always keep your audience informed of what you’re up to, even if you go completely off the radar.
  3. It’s where the money is.

Regarding #3, you may or may not have heard this expression before: “The Money is in the List.”

It’s an expression that has been used in the Internet marketing industry since the birth of email (or “snail mail” for that matter), because it’s true. But you do need to be careful when you decide to use your list to make money. You really don’t want it to be all about the money.

Once you make it “all about the money” is when you will begin to lose subscribers by sacrificing your credibility. What you want to do first and foremost is to create a product that helps and informs people. Once you do this and you have gained respectability then it will be time to begin your effort to make money. Online karma does exist.

Regular or Irregular Delivery

You can setup an opt-in form to capture email addresses on your website and only email your subscribers when you have to. This, however, is not such a good idea and I will tell you why.

Imagine signing up for a newsletter and not receiving anything from me for weeks or months. What do you think you would do?

  1. Forget who I was and think my email is spam.
  2. Unsubscribe from the list because you’d realize that there’s really no point of being on it.
  3. All of the above.

What you write in your emails doesn’t have to be “news”- it can be anything really. But, it’s important that you contact your subscribers on a consistent basis and provide them with some kind of useful information in order to keep them around.

Remember: All it takes is one click to unsubscribe from your list.

Eureka! The Purpose Of Your Newsletter

Sometimes, a really great (forgotten) notion…

frustrated-tbaAs I was readying myself for this trip to California, I thought I had done the necessary things: made a list and checked things off as I completed those tasks. Upon my return I noticed on my list that I had to dig out of my trash at the office, that I didn’t check off “Back up hard drive.” Sometimes, a really notion… never makes it into a great reality.

Needless to say, my external hard-drive took a nosedive off a dining room table never from which to recover.

“Ahhhh,” I said to myself, “I am sure I backed everything up right before I left.” NOT!

I don’t have to tell you how I felt when I got here and realized the last backup I performed was about one-month prior to leaving.

Lesson learned! Besides having to rebuild quite a few other things, I had to almost build the just-released Red Dog News #159 from scratch. For that reason I am very appreciative of templates and hosted services that are very far away from my clumsiness and slight of mind.

In future posts I will talk a bit more about the trip, which was wonderful, educational, soothing (even amid all the chaos!), and extremely fulfilling on so many fronts.