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PPA Today: February 2013 Archives

February 2013 Archives

When accidents happen -- and we're talking the big ones - you need to be prepared. What if a client of yours falls and gets injured during a photo session? Or your lighting equipment causes a fire in someone's home? You may be liable for the damages and the financial impact on your business could be devastating. These events are rare, but when they happen you need more than equipment insurance. Whether you're self-employed or an occasional freelancer, safeguarding yourself with General Liability Insurance is crucial. The PPA offers affordable general liability coverage through its insurance solutions and the best thing is that it takes only minutes to obtain. You can get a quote for an annual policy, buy your coverage securely online and receive your certificate of coverage via email immediately. Visit www.ppa.locktonaffinity.com today!  
For most business people, choosing a payments processor is much like choosing a car mechanic. Unless you are knowledgeable about maintenance, parts, and pricing, you are at a disadvantage. Why?...because you must trust that the person in front of you is honest and fair. That's why educating yourself is the first step to finding the RIGHT partner for you.

Competition from providers to obtain your business is fierce and, unfortunately, shady companies DO exist. Take the time to compare your options and delve into all the details to understand exactly what I being offered to you. Here is a checklist of some important elements to consider:

Varying Fees: Are some rates should lower than others? It's important to as a lot of questions about fees, such as the differences in charges for keyed cards, reward cards and corporate cards. Hidden fees need to be un-hidden up front!

Startup costs: Are there any startup costs? Merchant account applications and setup services should be free.

Equipment range and costs: Does the company sell, lease or both? Do they support virtual, mobile and integrated payments? If equipment breaks down, what is the average repair time? Are discounts offered for purchasing multiple terminals?

Restrictions: Are there minimums for monthly or annual levels of business? Does the company deal with a wide range of credit cards? Are there any restrictions if your business is seasonal?

Reputation: Are they trustworthy? Research potential providers with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau. Seek recommendations from people you trust, including successful local merchants and trade associations.

Contracts and/or leases: Does the contract specify particular conditions or time periods? What happens to equipment when a contract is terminated? Read the fine print.

Charges: Are there "ceilings" beyond which you'll have to pay excess fees? Are there additional fees for international services?

Support: Is help available 24/7? Are there additional charges for after-hours support? Does the processor have knowledgeable customer support and service teams?

Compliance: Do they offer equipment that supports industry compliance standards?

Take the time to find the provider that will fit your needs. Any quality provider should be willing to answer all the questions above, as well as provide an evaluation of your current statement. This analysis should itemize your fees so you can fully understand the charges.
 
Remember that a wise man once said: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So step cautiously, do your homework and know that MTG is available to answer any questions you may have along the way.

MTG: 1.888.599.2209. 
Whether you're an old hand at charitable marketing or want to get started but don't know how, PPA Charities (in association with Marathon Press) has the event--complete with a marketing guide--for you. As a PPA member, you can gain new clients and repeat business by participating in the Celebration of Smiles Day, set for April 6, 2013!*

When you register, you'll receive . . .

  • The Celebration of Smiles Marketing Guide that takes you step-by-step through how to market, prepare for and execute your promotion, plus predesigned promotional elements and materials you can use to market to your clients and prospects.
  • Your studio name and website link placed on the Celebration of Smiles consumer website.
  • Access to the Celebration of Smiles Facebook Group, where participants discuss, brainstorm, learn and share about Celebration of Smiles studio events and promos.
  • Weekly "countdown" emails (starting in March) to help you stay on track with marketing and operation your Celebration of Smiles Day event.
  • Eligibility to enter PPA Charities' Portrait Awards to win great prizes and recognition for an image taken during your Celebration of Smiles Day event.

Last year, PPA members raised $46,581 to help the children of Operation Smile. In 2013, PPA Charities hope to double that number of smiles to be saved by the wonderful medical volunteers of this amazing charity! But they need your help to make this possible, so please join in to experience the joy of getting your business noticed while helping others through your art.

Get the scoop on the Celebration of Smiles possibilities and remember...you have to be a PPA member to participate! (Not a PPA member? It's easy to join.)
 
 *Choose another day in April to hold your Celebration of Smiles Day event if April 6 does not work for you.
** If you donated $240 or more to PPA Charities in 2012, the $25 donation entry fee is waived, but you do have to register your information to take part this year.


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by Mariah Ashley, Snap! Photographymariah_ashley_oasisarticle.JPG

To discount or not to discount. That is the question! Every photographer has been faced with this dilemma at one time or another. Creating a pricing structure that supports your growing business, acknowledges the value of your expertise AND keeps clients flowing through the door is a challenge. This challenge is even greater when times are tough and your financial statements are looking especially grim. Sound familiar to you? We invite you to follow along with Mariah Ashley of SNAP! Photography as she explores this age-old question and makes exciting revelations about the impact of discounting.

IMAGE © MARIAH ASHLEY
Results from the 2013 Western District Photographic Competition are now in. Congratulations to all the photographers who earned merits!

View the complete list of results.
Results from the 2013 Northcentral District Photographic Competition are now in. Congratulations to all the photographers who earned merits!

View the complete list of results.
Jeffrey Mantler, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, says that like many photographers he believed for years that once an image "is created, it's copyrighted." That concept is only true to a very limited extent. The truth is that when you don't take the extra step to register your images with the U.S. Copyright Office, you forfeit the protection needed to successfully defend your copyright if it's infringed - a lesson that Jeffrey had to learn the hard way.

To help other photographers, Jeffrey put together a guide on how and why to register your images with the copyright office that PPA Members can access now.


ashley_maria_headshot.JPGby Mariah Ashley, Snap! Photography

My head is spinning from our recent trip to Imaging USA, PPA's annual convention and expo. Truth be told, I nearly faked the flu to get out of going. I really just wanted to curl up in my bed in the dark and wallow shamefully in self-doubt and negativity. (I considered this for a few hours on the Friday before the convention.) Luckily, when my business partner Trish Gilmore got to work, she was so excited about the trip that I decided a fake flu was not the best course of action.

What Really Ailed Me
Seriously, though, my ailments were real...and all completely related to the current state of our bank account. If describing them to a doctor, I would list my symptoms as:

  1. A constant panicky feeling brought on by my lack of faith in our new pricing structure and reinforced by the absence of any recent qualified wedding inquiries, let alone bookings.
  2. A nauseous feeling attributed to the mounting costs of a rebranding endeavor that is not causing clients to beat down our door...yet (see above).
I am an optimistic person by nature. I see the silver lining in just about any cloud, though my optimism is generally not based in any kind of reality. I've often attributed my successes (or at least longevity) in this business to my unrealistic optimism. I remember many times when all logic and reason would point to calling it quits. Yet I always felt that if I could just hang in there, good fortune would be waiting around the corner. And you know what? I was right.

Lately though, I feel depleted. Negativity has crept into the corners of my thoughts and no matter how much I ask it to leave, it just won't. I'm tired of trying so hard. I'm tired of waiting for the turn of fortune. I'm tired of being unfailingly perky.

What Got Me to Imaging USA
Despite my funk, I dug deep into what was left of my optimistic reserves and got my butt on a plane to Atlanta. In addition to Trish's enthusiasm for the trip, I was spurred on by my excitement to meet our PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) consultant Bridget Jackson and our SMS mentor Mary Fisk-Taylor.

We joined SMS a few years ago, and since then Bridget has been a cheerleader, a voice of reason, an invaluable consultant and a trusted advisor. She's proud of how far we've come and asked us to speak at the SMS booth at the Imaging EXPO. Letting Bridget down after all she's done for us was not an option. Likewise, Mary has given us marketing gems and advice that have opened up a whole new way of thinking about our business. Let Mary down? I'd sooner walk into my high school class reunion naked. It was decided.

So we went.

I know full well that it is cliché to say this, but that Imaging USA trip was truly a life-changing experience. I felt as if the entire convention was designed around answering our questions. I felt as if Sarah Petty, Anna Kuperberg, Greg Gorman and Ann Monteith were speaking directly to us. All of our questions were answered, all of our doubts assuaged, and the embers of excitement and inspiration for our business were stoked to a toasty glow. Bye-bye silver-lining-less clouds!

At Imaging USA, Trish and I talked at dinner, late into the night in our hotel room and on the plane ride home. We formulated a clear, concise vision for SNAP! Photography and a plan to put our ideas into action. And then we got home.

What Happens Next
So what happens now? On Jan. 25, the phone was still not ringing. The bills were still in a pile on my desk. How do we keep the glow?

Here's the answer: Now we do EXACTLY what Sarah, Anna, Greg and all the other experts we listened to told us to do! We do it for one entire year--uncompromisingly, unfailingly. And I see myself getting on a plane next year (destination:  Imaging USA 2014 in Phoenix) the opposite of reluctance; eager to tell anyone who will listen how your fortune can turn if only you'll take the steps.

To keep herself honest and her goals in view, Mariah plans to journal all of the trials and tribulations she and her business partner encounter along the way. You can follow along with her here on the PPA blog!
Double your savings at FedEx Office! As a PPA member you are eligible to save up to 20% on the materials you need most with FedEx Office® copy and print services. And now you can save up to 40% through May 2013. It's the perfect time to save big on color copies, posters, signs, banners, direct mail services, and much more.

Members, find the details on the Perks & Savings page.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2013 is the previous archive.

March 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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