retouching by: Valentin Sivyakov
food styling: Libbie Summers
My New Year’s resolution for the wedding photography part of the business is to explore using social media to promote it. I read two great articles about photographers who are generating a lot of business from FB. Both suggested uploading wedding photos, tagging the bride and groom, and then sitting back while they go about tagging their friends. The photos go viral to friends of friends, many of whom are young and marriageable.
Seems easy, so I created a Facebook “Page” in order to accomplish this, since we don’t want to mix our personal profiles with the business, and FB says “Pages” are for businesses. Problem is, Pages have Fans, not Friends. They can’t invite Fans. They can’t tag their Fans. They can’t send Messages. So there’s no way to alert the bride and groom to the Page other than to email them a link or message them from my personal account. But that wouldn’t work anyway, because as far as I can tell, images posted by Pages can never be tagged, even by People.
I would be happy to pay Facebook for the privilege of sending an invitation to the bride and groom and the privilege of tag-ability, but that’s not possible. All I can pay Facebook for is an ad targeting a demographic – say, engaged women in their 20′s in Savannah. (Yes, we’re trying that too.)
So the reason I say Facebook doesn’t get small businesses is that it’s clear these rules exist to prevent giant corporations from spamming Facebook accounts. That’s great. But small businesses have actual relationships with their clients. If the local coffee shop wants to proactively reach out to me on Facebook, that wouldn’t piss me off, because I actually do know the owner. (Hi Kristin!)
The upshot is that I think this is a good idea for local wedding and portrait photographers to pursue, but you’re going to have to create a secondary personal page to do it. That’s what we did, and it is working – in 24 hours it generated 19 hits to our website. FYI, you cannot call your new Person “Joe Smith, Photographer” or anything like that, because the algorithms catch that. So you’ll have two Facebook identities. (Which reminds me of the time my friend created two online dating profiles – one sexy and one quirky – and judged guys based on which they responded to, but that’s another story.)
Corporations are not people, but small businesspeople are. Facebook is missing out on a huge market by not allowing us to network directly with our clients. I feel bad not paying for for-profit use of the site; I think it’s akin to copyright violation, but I don’t see an alternative.
Update 1/16/12 – The answer may be a “Community Page”. Still probably technically against the rules, but at least it’s not a personal page. Someone can tag photos on community page once they like it.
Yes I agree, Kickstarter is one of the coolest ways to fund your artistic project. It’s really awesome! I don’t mean to be a buzzkill on the blog here, but be aware that, as far as I can tell (and I’m no lawyer here, just a photographer who knows a thing or two about business with a Father-in-Law who is a tax attorney in New York City):
1) Money you receive from Kickstarter is probably “Income” and will be subject to your State and Federal (and City) taxes. It appears that, for the big projects ($20k or more) Amazon is going to start issuing 1099′s that will report the income to the IRS. That doesn’t mean that smaller projects don’t owe income tax too, just that you’d better keep track of it yourself because you’re not going to get a handy form. Of course, your expenses are deductible from your income, so you may not owe much income tax in the end. The point is, you’re running a business, so act like it, keep good books, and budget accordingly.
2) “Rewards” are probably subject to state sales tax. Yes, that’s right, “Rewards” are probably seen by the State Tax folks as things that people buy. And the last time I checked, “Tangible personal property” is subject to sales tax. (So, for example, if I sponsor a project for $25 and I receive a t-shirt as a reward, then the artist “Giving” (or selling) the reward probably needs to collect and remit sales tax on the reward. It doesn’t matter if the reward is of far lesser value than the gift – for instance if you give $100 and get a souvenir button in return. Technically, you just bought a $100 button and that’s subject to sales tax.
Kickstarter offers this advice on how to set “the price” for your reward, and it’s as close as it comes to an outright acknowledgement that “reward” is just a fancy name for “good offered for sale”: So what works? Offering something of value. Actual value considers more than just sticker price. If it’s a limited edition or a one-of-a-kind experience, there’s a lot of flexibility based on your audience. But if it’s a manufactured good, then it’s a good idea to stay reasonably close to its real-world cost.
Leslie Burns has a really really good post about the issue. And here’s a fun talking animation that addresses it as well. (I think it’s really good for the first 3 1/2 minutes, but then starts garbling up the income tax and sales tax issues. But you get the idea):
You can get sued if you aren’t careful and you use music for commercial purposes without a license. Just ask Tony Romo’s (QB of the Dallas Cowboys) wedding photographer, Joe Simon. He used a Cold Play song in a wedding slide show video that went viral on youtube and he had to settle with Cold Play for an undisclosed amount. The full PDN article is here.
Moby has a website called mobygratis.com that offers “film music” for “independent and non-profit filmmakers, film students, and anyone in need of free music for their independent, non-profit film, video, or short.” If you want to use the work for commercial purposes, you have to e mail and pay for that use. I have used mobygratis for a behind the scenes video and was granted permission to do so.
Another option is triple scoop music.
With so much talk about the importance of social networking, large companies are now hiring agencies to produce their social networking content and maintain their blogs. Guess what those companies need: IMAGES. Lots of them. AND, lots of different kinds of images: still life (their new products,) corporate portraits, video of CEO’s talking about their company, manufacturing images of the physical plant, a photo journalist view of the company etc. You get the idea: lots of different styles. How much would it cost that company to hire this work out freelance? Yes, hundreds of thousands of dollars. So what do they do? Hire recent art school graduates who can shoot and work in multiple styles. BRILLIANT!
Once such company is Group SJR. Check out their work here.