Two weeks ago I announced the release of my new book “I Don’t Suck & Neither Should You” on both Facebook and Instagram. The date of the release was April 1.
Yes, it was an April Fool’s Day Joke. I hope I would never write a book titled “I Don’t Suck” – even though I like to think that I don’t.
As if the title and the awfully cheesy photo were not hint enough that this was a joke – I added in a list of other hints and jabs that this was for satire only.
There was the “Self-Acclaimed Bestselling Author” in the cover as well as the “No Money Back Guarantee” in the copy of the post.
However, over the past two weeks I’ve had numerous e-mails, texts and even phone calls congratulating me on the release of my new book and how proud they were. Now I am not trying to criticize anyone in this post who thought this was a real book.
The reality is that we live in a society where the attention span of our audience is no more than an eye blink. Whether it was Facebook or Instagram – people saw this post which was a book cover, and briefly looked at the text, blinked and moved on.
Why this happens is because we are far too overwhelmed with a constant stream of content (posts, news, blogs, videos, tweets, status updates and so on). It would be impossible for us to absorb it all so we simply ignore most or only gloss over most.
This makes it incredibly hard to stand out. If you are reading this you are a modeling talent or a photographer perhaps and you are surrounded in a sea of noise fighting for people’s attention.
How does one combat this? The first thing is to focus on putting out the very best content possible. If all you are doing is adding noise to a very noisy medium – you won’t even receive an eye blink’s worth of attention. The second thing to do is find the right audience to share your content with. Finally, it is to deliver the content they want to see. That is how you earn attention with your social media channels (beyond likes – actual engagement), you blog and whatever venture you choose to invest your time into.
I received a random message on Facebook last week from a stranger I was not connected with. They indicated that they were relocating to my town and were not sure what I did for a living but had a great business opportunity for me.
I’m not sure how I didn’t jump out of my seat immediately at this “opportunity.”
What were the mistakes?
First they gave me no indication that the message was personalized to me. Why specifically are they reaching out to me? Second, it showed they knew nothing about me or even what I did which led me to question the final inquiry of requesting that I listen to their business opportunity. How could they possible know I’d be good for whatever it is?
Overall, I don’t think anyone would disagree that this was a terrible pitch.
Now, how could this be remedied?
First – clearly articulate who you are and the specific reason for the contact. Second, show that you’ve done your homework and that you know who the person you are contacting is and what they are about. Lastly, you make it very clear what you’re asking for. The days of bait ‘em and bring ‘em in are dead. We’ve become far too good at ignoring these bad pitches.
Relate this to pitching yourself to a magazine editor. You introduce yourself, you show you’ve done your homework, you tailor and personalize the message and you make it clear what you’re asking for or pitching about.
That is how you stand apart from a sea of terrible pitches.
Are you ever really ready for that next level, the next opportunity, promotion, adventure, challenge?
Those of you who know me know that I’ve grown to love public speaking – however that was not always the case. I just had to keep doing it.
I was at a Toastmasters meeting last week when someone confessed they were nervous about speaking because everyone else seemed to have more charisma, more leadership and more natural ability than they did.
My response was that you did not need any of those things to stand up in front of a group and share your thoughts – but by doing it, you would develop and become all of those things.
I wasn’t ready to lead when I stepped in as president of Ad2. I wasn’t ready to manage a commercial production when I got my first opportunity to do so. Most of our careers we accelerate slowly. But then occasionally we have the opportunity to leap forward.
No doubt we won’t feel ready when that chance arrives. But taking that chance, regardless of the outcome, is what makes us ready.
This past Saturday night at the ADDY Awards hosted by the American Advertising Federation Tucson Chapter, the James Patrick photography team took home three GOLD ADDY Awards for our work in photography.
The projects which received awards included a cover we shot for Max Sports & Fitness Magazine featuring NFL Cornerback Jamell Fleming, an interior spread we shot for Scottsdale Health Magazine featuring Gold Medal Olympia Swimmer Roland Schoeman, as well as a personal dance campaign we shot featuring Michelle Leigh Mozek which was later published in Oxygen Magazine.
This is the most ADDYs our team has ever received during this annual event.
However, the night was capped off when the announcement came through that we also received the BEST OF SHOW Award for our work of Roland Schoeman!
The entire team feels truly honored and privileged for the three gold ADDYs and especially to be named the BEST OF SHOW winner at the event.
Special thanks goes out to everyone who is and has been a part of the James Patrick Photography team for making the projects a success, to our outstanding clients for the opportunities and to the AAFT and Ad2 for the recognition at the award ceremony!
We are very anxious to see how the work does at the District level next!
As I approach my three-year anniversary of completing a fitness competition, I reflect back onto all the various activities, challenges, projects and ideas I’ve undertaken. Whether it was releasing a manifesto, running a half marathon, leaving my marketing job, writing and publishing an e-book or launching theproexposure.com network – there was one unifying commonality between all the endeavors.
With each thing I engaged in, a deadline was set. A due date, a completion time frame and a specific finish line. It was this seemingly simple, yet often overlooked, act that represented a critical facet in the completion of anything I set out to do.
In our world, and especially in our industry – we do not lack people with ideas, people with desire, people with wishes for what they want to achieve.
What we have a shortage of are the individuals with the drive, the grit and the push to finish their project, to hit publish on their blog or their book, to send the product out to the developer, to advertise their service to their audience.
However, setting a deadline on the onset of the project does a few really interesting things. For starters it shifts your personal perception of the project. It takes it away from merely being a hobby or something just for fun. If it is important enough to set a deadline to, it is important enough to truly invest in. From there, the deadline creates accountability. You put yourself on the hook to do it and to do it by a certain date. Now, a lot of the clutter and speedbumps that ordinarily would have gotten in the way and caused you to shelve the project can be overcome. There are far less excuses.
Lastly, setting a deadline is what helps you look at the project from the eyes of a professional because professionals complete and finish. Not everything is going to work perfectly when you send it out the door or hit publish and that is okay. What truly matters is that it, whatever it is that you choose to do, goes out to market.
About two weeks ago I was able to speak to a local Art Institute class on building a career in the photography industry alongside another photographer I admire. Today I have the opportunity to speak on the same topic to a group of students at ASU.
Participating in these sessions and hearing the questions from the students has certainly led to a great deal of reflection on my own path I’ve taken to get to this point.
I hear questions like; how can I be sure I make enough money to live off of, how can I make the right connections, where is the best place to start, how do I network with clients, how do I find the right clients, how do I market the business, how do I do work I love and still make money?
These are not photo-specific questions. These are questions of the eager entrepreneur – regardless of what they choose to spend their time doing.
If there was one unifying lesson I’ve learned in this 13 year trip – it is the value and importance of persistence.
Persistence in the work you strive to do.
Persistence in the clients you want to work with.
Persistence in the pursuit of quality you want to have.
Persistence in the way you run your business.
Persistence in the relationships you make.
and most importantly persistence in the passion you have for the craft.
I’ve had the opportunity to know and work with Samantha Kozuch for the better part of a decade. During that time I’ve witnessed her transform and reignite her brand in multiple avenues. What follows is our recent interview together.
James Patrick: You’ve been on camera almost as long as I’ve been behind the camera. Over the nearly 10 years we have worked together your brand has evolved several times over. How have you managed your brand and growth over time? Samantha Kozuch: Yes, wow! Time does fly when you’re having fun doesn’t it?! Basically, at the beginning of each year I reevaluate where I’m at in my career, what are my goals for each month and the year and then I realign my day-to-day activities to achieve those goals. I make a vision board and check back with it monthly to gage where I’m at as well. Over the years my goals have changed drastically, I’ve gone from glamour bikini model to fitness and commercial talent and yes as you mentioned, have changed my brand over multiple times, and that’s the beauty of this business. I finally feel like I’m at a place in my career where I feel happy, proud and successful! I’m checking off goals that I’ve had on my list for a very long time! It gets really exciting when you keep pushing yourself and don’t give up – you can accomplish so much!
JP: When did you find yourself gravitating towards the fitness industry? SK: I’ve been an athlete since I could remember! My parents had me in sports since I could walk, but actually becoming a health & fitness advocate didn’t start until after I graduated college. When I was in college I had gravitated towards glamour modeling, then when I started noticing the girls in the fitness industry I realized that I could too bring my two passions together – health & fitness and modeling & acting. I had then realized that I was really dieting and excising the wrong way, and damaging my body to look thin more then I was nurturing it and after lots of reading and research I came to find healthy ways to achieve a fit body and wanted to share my experiences with other women. This led me to start my first fitness blog www.GetFitBeSexy.com and then from there I grew a following on my social media channels. I enjoy being able to share my passion and educate others, it’s the most rewarding thing about my career! Getting emails and messages saying how I’ve inspired someone, or because of my tips a person has lost 10lbs is the greatest feeling! Having great looking images and being published is fantastic, but if all that work doesn’t help to inspire anyone then it doesn’t really fulfill me. I want to look back at my career and say I helped make a difference in a world with a high running obesity rate.
JP: You’ve developed multiple income streams as a model from doing freelance commercial and editorial work, to having a commercial agent, to promotions. What led to each of these avenues and how have each continued to build your brand? SK: It all started my freshman year in college, growing up I heard over and over, ‘you’re so tall, you should be a model’, but I was an athlete my whole pre-college life playing basketball and running track year round so I was focused on sports and school. When I got to college I decided to leave my sports teams behind and turned down athletic scholarships in order to have a “normal” college experience without having the obligations of being an athlete. I was worn out from that lifestyle! When first semester of college hit, there was a HUGE void in my life that I had not prepared for, what the heck could I do outside of the classroom? In high school it was always training or games to go to and now I had absolutely nothing but homework! It was depressing, I never knew I would feel this way! I needed a hobby, so I decided to get into modeling. I had seen some ads in The Daily Wildcat for models and I started there. James, you and I, had actually worked on my first published piece of work, the Tucson 12 swimsuit calendar and that really kicked off my modeling career because it gave me that boost of confidence knowing that I could do this! I had gone to a casting, booked the job and got published – viola! So from that I had my own month in that calendar, and I was also in an ad for a local bar within that calendar. The bar I had been advertised for then had asked me to bartend at their place, which I took up instantly because it was so hard to find a good paying job around the university! It was there that I saw promotional girls come into the bar and from there I was just constantly asking questions, how did you get into this, how can I apply? and so on!
This industry is ALL networking and putting your self out there and most importantly, being professional. So that’s how I got started in promotional modeling, then I got into working as a spokes-model for tradeshows, and from there everything just started coming together. I got booked for more work, more events, more photoshoots, etc. whether it was through an agency, or someone had referred me or a repeat client it just kept happening over and over and once I graduated college I did this full time for 5 years. It’s almost a blur now, but basically I hustled! Ha ha! There is no simple answer to explain how I got to each of these. One opportunity led to another and it all just started steam rolling together. My moto is, if it makes sense, makes me money and is aligned with my brand and goals then I’ll probably do it!
JP: Eventually you had an idea for a company you wanted to launch. Talk about the need you saw in the market and how you positioned yourself and your new company. SK: Well it was two things that got me going with my video production business, www.WhiteScreenVideos.com was initially created because I needed a long term plan for my financial needs – who knows how long I’ll be able to model, act, travel, etc. I’ll eventually have a family and there’s no way I’d be happy going into the corporate world after being an entrepreneur my whole life. In the past, and still today, I’ve been the hired talent for many production companies, where I’d go into their studios and read lines while they filmed me. It was after some brainstorming with a friend that I should set up a production company and do it all myself, instead of just being paid a minimum as an actress. I also saw that many video production companies charge thousands and thousands of dollars, many startups can’t afford such costs; especially if they need multiple videos, so I created a turn-key solution that is more affordable. That’s when White Screen Videos was born, we create professional marketing videos for you! Every business should have videos on their website! They help build rapport, get you more traffic, increase conversion rates, clarify your products and boost your sales! For most businesses, the process of creating a video is overwhelming or impossible, so we do all the hard work for them and create a professional marketing video that they can share on their website with potential clients and turn them into customers, all over the world!
JP: How has what you’ve learned and the growth of your brand helped you in this new venture? SK: Well I’ve been very driven to succeed since day one, that’s just my personality type, and not only does my lively hood rely on the income from the businesses I run, but I really hope that I never ever have to enter the corporate world, unless I’m the CEO of course! I’ve learned I have to be professional, consistent and reliable. I hold myself to the same standards no matter where I’m working. When I tell people that I have my own company and work from home, many think I “have the life”, but it doesn’t mean I can just chill on the couch all day, eating bon bons and expect money to roll in… I have to say the hustle is very real and I work around the clock to build and keep my companies thriving. Heck it’s 11:15pm right now and here I am doing this interview… it never stops and I absolutely LOVE it and that’s how I know that I’m doing the right thing with my life.
JP: What made you decide to not rely solely on modeling work for revenue? SK: I’ve been very fortunate in the modeling world thus far, but you never know what’s going to happen in life. Early in my entrepreneurship days I was told to never rely on once source of income, and modeling was my one source. You never know when that will be taken away, god forbid; I could break my leg next week and be out of work for a month! And looks fade, things can change in an instant and when you rely on you’re looks you really do need to have another means of income – it’s just the smart thing to do! So whether it’s selling products, offering other services, etc. having an additional source was always the goal. For me it’s great to have a mix, one week I’m working at home with my video business clients and the next I’m travelling for a modeling gig… it keeps it fun and exciting and I think that’s another reason I’m just so passionate about it all!
JP: Talk about the importance of paying professionals for services such as photo shoots versus getting free work. SK: When you pay for a professional service such as photos, in my experience, you can bet that you’re going to have some outstanding results! Whenever I’ve paid for a photo shoot it’s always been top-notch and an amazing experience because everyone on set is looking to further their business or career so the whole shoot is taken seriously! I’ve always been able to use those shoots to my advantage to get more publishing’s or book higher paying jobs because the images are of great quality!
But I do have to include that it also depends who you are working with when it comes to free work! I’ve been fortunate to work with top photographers and production companies for free and have received incredible work for my portfolio; however, this is not always the case for everyone. Free work is great to learn your skill, such as practice modeling, being in front of the camera, maybe even network with people in the industry – I still do free shoots to this day, but I know what to look for in a photographer prior to shooting and whether they’re worth the time to work with and if I can make those shoots pay off for me in the long run!
JP: Where do you see our personal brand as a talent and your company going from here? SK: I have so many visions and dreams, many I haven’t even started on yet! I’ve barely scraped the top of the fitness industry of where I want to be and I have big goals for fulfill this year. I’ll finally be getting my healthy lifestyle plans and workout videos out to my fans, they really have been asking me to do this for years! Also with WhiteScreenVideos.com I’m at a point where I do need to expand and hire other professional talent, video editors, and get an actual studio outside of my house – so that’s going to be another big and exciting leap. Basically, I’m going to stick to everything that I am doing and expand my brands to be better!
JP: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your journey and advice you could give to others? SK: Before starting any modeling, acting or entrepreneurial career I’d write out a plan of what you want your brand to be – and stick to it or just evolve to be better from it! What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered? What brands do you want to possibly work with? Is your current work going to turn them off from working with you?
My goals and vision has changed DRAMATICALLY in the past 10 years – and that’s normal of course! We all change during our twenties so I’m not surprised to look back, because at that point in time it’s what I wanted .
When I first started in this industry, I was young, in college and 18 so my primary goal was for people to recognize me as a sexy glamour model and I didn’t want to be the “jock” that I was growing up. I was in a new city with new people it was the perfect time that I could re-brand myself without even realizing that this is what I was actually doing. It worked out great for a while, but then I grew out of that “sexy picture” stage pretty quickly and I wanted to make a serious living with modeling and acting. So I started attending modeling and business seminars and was able to network with other people in the industry to learn how to brand yourself and make a living doing so. I asked experienced models questions whenever I could… I was just yearning to learn how to become as successful as them. Since then, I’ve been able to completely rebrand myself, now I’m “The Fit Girl”. These days my work ranges from fitness to commercial to semi-glamour, people know me to be humble, easy to work with and professional. I’m constantly getting rebooked by companies and getting referred all the time, I’m really blessed. So by making a plan, educating yourself and aligning yourself with other people who can help push your career in the right direction is my advice to anyone looking to start or accelerate their career.
Special thanks to Samantha Kozuch for being a part of this interview feature!
It perhaps would seem overly simple – but something new talents still struggle with.
The first step you can take to getting published in a magazine in ensuring you have the right images in your portfolio that a magazine editor would want to see.
Look at your present images in your portfolio and ask yourself – would the magazine I want to be in care about these images? Would they publish these images? Would the editor of the magazine resonate with these images?
If the answer is yes, then the next step is to get your work in front of them.
However, if the answer is no, then you must re-engineer your portfolio to make sure you have the right images for the right publication.