Matthew Chan and Wes Weaver discuss The Investors Roundtable Project. Guest Host Tony Centavo discusses his experience within The Investors Roundtable.
Because of my personal distaste and dismay of the Stock Photo industry which started with the Getty Images Extortion Demand Letter, I have taken steps to personally boycott the Stock Photo Industry and advocate not using stock photos altogether. The stock photo industry seems to be rapidly consolidating into two companies: Getty Images and Corbis, as they buy their way into near-monopoly status with them setting outrageous rules, policy, and pricing.
This article will not give you all the information necessary to entirely eliminate the need for stock photos in every situation. However, this article will give you some ideas and strategies to wean yourself and perhaps altogether eliminate your need for stock photos. I firmly believe that if you put your intentions behind the idea, you can make huge strides towards eliminating the need for stock photos altogether.
The very first thing you need to think about is whatever media project you are working on is, do you truly need a photo at all? Chances are that you are working on a website, book, magazine, brochure, news story, banner, or some other media project. Alternatives to photos might be diagrams, cartoons, illustrations, and drawings that you or a graphic artist you hire can create. Can you take your own photo to fit the need?
If you hire a graphic artist to create your own artwork, do not hire anyone in China or India where there is very little respect for intellectual property. They may be inexpensive but you can never be assured that their work is original. There is little recourse for their bad behavior because they are so far away. I recommend hiring graphic artists from the U.S. because as a professional community, they have a greater respect for intellectual property than their Chinese or Indian counterparts. They will think twice before using pirated material.
I would avoid hiring any company that outsources their work to graphic artist worker bees. In other words, I always want to deal and negotiate with a graphic artist professional themselves, not some agent or agency that farms out graphics art work.
If you do want to use and take your own photos, I highly recommend investing in a good digital camera so that you can begin taking your own photos. I also recommend getting to know amateur hobbyist photographers who have access to good cameras and enjoy taking photos. Very often, amateur photographers with good cameras are trying to find a way to justify the costs of their hobby. By hiring them inexpensively, you can get some great looking photos but also help the amateur photographer pay for his hobby. Make sure they understand that you are they are working for hire and that you will have full ownership and rights to the photos.
Professional photographers can be expensive depending on what you want and who you use. For these folks, I recommend bartering with them for exchange of services if you have talents in your profession. I find many professional photographers finicky. They will sometimes not give you full ownership or rights of the photo even though you paid them to take a photo. They are quite protective and their thinking is aligned to many in the stock photo industry. Admittedly, this is a broad generalization and based only on my experience. I am simply not optimistic that you will get good value from a professional photographer but it certainly does not hurt to try and negotiate with them.
Another source of quality photos is product photos from product manufacturers. Often, they are happy to have their products publicized and placed in a positive light and will give you free rights to use their photos. Product companies mostly police and control their photos because they don’t want their photos used in a manner they did not intend or in a way that paints their company or products in a negative light. Many will grant you free usage of their photos if you approach them the right way. However, large companies can be a challenge sometimes because of their size. They may be so large that they may not even get back to you. Again, it never hurts to try. Product companies are in the business selling more of their products, not sue people who use their product photos.
If you choose to take your own photos, invest in a digital camera that can take a resolution of 4 megapixel images or higher. You want to take high-resolution photos as your master copy. You can then “downsize”, crop, and enhance the photos for your websites or other uses. I recommend buying an easy-to-use photo editor such as Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 or Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 that allows you to crop and resize photos easily. The photo editor can greatly enhance the quality of the master photos you take. You can also enhance colors and adjust lighting with the software. Special effects such as blurring, stretching, pixelating, framing, adding captions, etc. are included with photo editing software.
I truly believe that with the increasing power and technical capabilities of digital cameras, cell phone cameras, and camcorders, the value of stock photos and stock photo companies will eventually decline. It is going to be a losing business to be in. This whole notion of extorting your way to profitability is distasteful and eventually will fall by the wayside much like what has occurred in the music recording industry. One only has to look to RIAA for that lesson.
Along the “do-it-yourself” philosophy, you should have the mindset that you will fit images or photos you create to your media project, not let your media projects deciding the specific images you need. Stock photo companies are trying to brainwash you the idea that THEY have the perfect photo for your particular needs. If you are creative, imaginative, and resourceful enough, you will almost always find an alternative or work-around solution that does not require the use of stock photos.
If you want to show the stock photo industry you don’t need them, the best way is to simply generate more of your own photos to devalue theirs and then use your own. I have published two books recently and have been able to successfully avoid using stock photos of any kind. I used my own photos as well as authorized product photos. I created my own artwork. If more publishers, graphic artists, and graphic designers started doing this, I truly believe the stock photo industry could be brought down to their financial knees very quickly.
Many years ago, people said that we would run out of .com domains available because all the good ones were taken. It is true it has become more challenging to find a good .com domain name. However, I have made it my policy to not deal with any domain speculators or domain squatters. I won’t be extorted into paying thousands of dollars for an available domain I can register for less than $10. And because I have set that restriction and policy for myself, I have always been able to find many suitable .com domain names for my various websites.
It is the same principle here. Think abundantly. Think creatively. Tap into your imagination. There are many ways to implement a visual concept besides a specific photo you might have in mind. There are many ways to implement a concept visually. Do not let the stock photo companies brainwash you into thinking you have to use their particular photos because there are no other ways of finding an image for your particular website, logo, banner, sign, book, magazine, or other product.
The best kept secret that the stock photo industry hates are government websites and their photo collections. Great public domain photos can be found from U.S. government agency websites. “The people” own the photos, not any one individual or organization. USA.gov is a government-operated website that was launched to help U.S. citizens have better access to various government agencies and resources. Specifically, USA.gov has a page called U.S. Government Photos and Images which contains links to government agency websites that have public domain images. The diversity of images available is quite impressive. An off-shoot of that page is the State Photo & Multimedia Galleries which links to public domain images at the State level.
Some of the more notable ones I like and found impressive are listed below:
- NASA Images has space-related photos.
- Our Earth as Art has photos relating to the earth, weather, oceans, and nature.
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library has photos relating to animals, plants, nature, and wildlife.
- NOAA Photo Library has several collections of photos relating to nature, weather, oceans, and wildlife.
- U.S. Department of Defense DefenseLINK has photos relating to the military, war, politics, and the President.
- Library of Congress Geography & Map Reading Room has images relating to historical and current maps.
- National Archives America”s Historical Documents has images relating to history, politics, and historical events.
- National Park Service Digital Image Archives has images relating to nature, history, and national parks around the U.S.
Are you impressed with these websites? I was. It is all free and much of it is available in high-resolution. However, you should realize that not all images from government websites are public domain. You will need to seek out the image usage rights notices on each website. As I said USA.gov is a great starting point to a wealth of high-quality public domain photos.
If there are any other great public domain or government photo sites, please let me know and I will add them. If you have any additional tips to stop using stock photos and boycott the stock photo industry, send them to me and I will incorporate them into this article.
This was first posted on the “TurnKey Publishing Blog”
Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI (public relations) was kind enough to provide a nice testimonial of my book, “TurnKey Publishingâ€. I greatly appreciate her kind words and her support.
Matthew Chan”s choice of title, TurnKey Publishing, is perfect in describing the contents of his book â€“ a wealth of information â€“ truly a basic primer on the subject. He has included every facet of self publishing anyone would need to know in order to have a thorough grasp of the subject.
The book comprises such aspects as: what to write about, budgeting and setting aside of funds toward eventual expenditures, costing, forming your own publishing company, design ideas for the book cover, use of photos, printing options, getting an ISBN number, etc. Matthew covers it all.
Not only does he explain the topics in simple understandable terms, but he tells “how toâ€ in a way that makes it easy for any reader to use and apply the material.
This book is one of my top choices, a “must readâ€ roadmap for anyone contemplating the route of self-publishing and wanting to avoid the potholes with the result of having a successfully journey.
This was first published on The TurnKey Publishing Blog.
On Friday, September 25 at 2:30pm EST, I will be interviewed by publicist Joanne McCall on her Internet radio show about my publishing experiences and the TurnKey Publishing brand philosophy. The program will be 30-minutes long. I am looking forward to this fun experience.
This was first published on The TurnKey Publishing Blog.
As the names implies, educational marketing is a specific type of marketing where you engage potential customers and clients through education and consultation. It is about taking a leadership but also an expert, instructional, and training role in engaging customers and clients.
Done well, it is a collaborative well and there is goodwill on both parties. Done poorly, customers and clients feel that the power of knowledge and expertise is being used against them as an unfair advantage leaving them feeling dissatisfied from the experience.
Educational marketing is often used in large businesses where a high degree of technical understanding is part of the customer-buying process. The computer hardware, computer software, Internet, medical, and pharmaceutical industry are large-scale examples of businesses that engage in educational marketing efforts. Even late-night infomercials engage in educational marketing when they demonstrate how to use new, innovative products.
In smaller businesses, doctors, attorneys, accountants, electricians, plumbers, and auto mechanics also actively engage in a form of educational marketing. They have to educate their customers and clients as they market and sell to them. Done well, everyone is happy. Done poorly, it becomes a distasteful experience especially for the customer and client.
Educational marketing is quite pervasive in many businesses even though business owners and managers do not necessarily use the term educational marketing. They simply know they have to teach their potential customers and clients.
In this article, I focus on discussing educational marketing as it relates to consultants, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other high-achieving business professionals. Doctors, attorneys, accountants, small business owners, and entrepreneurs all fall into the group of people I focused on and work with.
These are people who often represent the human face of businesses they own or work for. How they perform as individuals is a direct reflection of their business. The individual-company relationship cannot easily be separated with the business.
Fundamentally, there are four basic ways potential customers and clients learn during the educational marketing process. They can read, listen, see, or do. They can read text information such as books, brochures, newspapers, ads, and other media. They can listen to a live or recorded audio program such as a speech, training, or presentation. They can see (watch) a video (such as instructional tapes, videos, and DVDs) or a live demonstration through a class, workshop, or seminar. Or they can practice on or work with the product itself such as product and software trial periods.
I believe powerful educational marketing tools include published books, audio programs, and videos. They are powerful because they are also the same tools used in credibility marketing. In fact, successful educational marketing efforts result in a dual benefit. Good educational marketing also translates to good credibility marketing. (You can read more about Credibility Marketing in another article I wrote.)
Even in a seemingly irrelevant business such as leasing single-family homes, we have had great success with ongoing educational marketing efforts using our website. Everyday, we “teachâ€ our applicants through our website using text information and videos and our dedicated telephone information hotline through pre-recorded audios. We expend relatively little information on a personal level but we “teachâ€ our potential customers 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
We actively use publishing principles in the real estate side of our business. We don”t publish books per se for our potential customers but we do publish information on our web pages. We don”t publish formal audio programs for our potential customers but we do create audio recordings on our dedicated telephone information hotline.
However, if I were to actually sell our homes for commissions as real estate brokers do, I would not hesitate to write and publish a book and audio program on the subject. They are great business calling cards, symbols of my expertise and credibility, and they would teach my potential clients what they need to know to buy, negotiate, inspect, and finance a home.
I am an advocate of using published products as part of any educational marketing strategy. Even if books don”t get read, they command the highest respect out of all the media available including newspaper ads, brochures, radio, CDs, videos, and TV. This stems from the academic and scholarly symbolism we attach to books to this day.
An author is often bestowed by the public with expert status on the subject they have written and published on. I often say, writing and publishing a book is like getting a GED for the college degree. Depending on the subject and quality of your book, it may be like you getting a Bachelor”s, Master”s or even a PhD degree. The difference is that it takes far less time, money, and effort to write a book than to earn an academic degree. Becoming an author is a worthwhile investment for any high-achieving business professional, entrepreneur, consultant, and CEO.
Publishing a book or an audio program are excellent ways to engage in educational marketing. In addition to being great business symbols and calling cards, they help teach and spread your message. They empower your potential customers and clients with your expertise, knowledge, and wisdom.
In closing, I am a huge advocate of Educational Marketing. Large or small business, you will have to educate your customers and clients about your business, product, and service before you can sell them. Educational marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy.
This was first published on The TurnKey Publishing Blog.
Despite what you might have heard, credibility marketing is about marketing your brand, company, mission, and yourself. Credibility marketing is not about directly promoting your products and services. And it is certainly not about the hard and quick sell. Credibility marketing is about investing and reinvesting in your company brand, message, and mission.
Credibility marketing is about developing and enhancing your presence, stature, authenticity, and respectability so that when you (or your company) has something to say, potential customers and clients will not only listen, they will believe you with minimal skepticism.
Often, this is about sharing information about your mission and what values you stand for. You are also measured by the authenticity (believability/honesty) of the message you convey and portray. Authenticity can sometimes be hard to determine but listeners look to their gut to determine if someone is authentic. However, it is true that good acting can deceive others into thinking that you are authentic when you are not.
Closely aligned with authenticity is congruency. You will also be measured by your congruency. Congruency is the measure and appearance of how you (and your company) behave, act, and respond as it relates to your public message. Are you company actions and responses always consistent with your company”s mission, brand, and messaging? If not, how often are you inconsistent? If your congruency factor is low (less than 70%), your company may be perceived as inconsistent or, even worse, hypocritical. The polar opposite of congruency is hypocrisy. Many have a high distaste for hypocrisy. It is the fastest away to kill credibility marketing efforts.
I believe a powerful way of enhancing and building credibility is the willingness to acknowledge imperfect aspects of yourself and your company. A willingness to express humility, self-deprecation, and imperfections can greatly enhance your credibility. It humanizes your company in the face of other marketing campaigns that say they are “perfect, flawless, the best, the greatest, etc.â€
I am not subscribing to openly sharing your critical weaknesses and Achilles Heel so that competitors and others can take advantage of you but showing that you have an ongoing philosophy to self-improve can be an asset to building credibility.
Another powerful way of building your credibility is through education. Educating others is about sharing expertise, knowledge, wisdom, and empowering others with valuable information so they can make an informed decision even if that decision means not buying your company product or services. Short-term, you may lose a sale but in the long-term, you will create goodwill and be remembered favorably for the next buying opportunity.
People who educate place themselves as an authority and expert figure when they teach, train, and instruct others. As a teacher, trainer, instructor, and expert figure, your credibility is almost automatically enhanced. People are listening and learning from you. They are opening their minds to you. They are more receptive to you.
One reason I am a huge proponent of publishing books and audio programs is that authors are often considered experts and teachers in what they write and speak about. Of course, that is not true in every case and every person. But in the professional and business world, authors are still much fewer in number than college graduates. In fact, for most “averageâ€ people, their chances of personally knowing someone who is an author (even an unknown one) is much lower than they knowing someone who is a college graduate.
Becoming an author is one of the best ways to build, enhance, and even jump-start your credibility. Holding a book you authored and published in your hands is a powerful symbol that shows your expertise in a subject matter or field.
As I often say, writing and publishing a book is like getting a GED for the college degree. Depending on the subject and quality of your book, it may be like you getting a Bachelor”s, Master”s or even a PhD degree. The difference is that it takes far less time, money, and effort to write a book than to earn an academic degree. Becoming an author is a worthwhile investment for any high-achieving business professional, entrepreneur, consultant, and CEO.
In closing, I am a huge advocate of Credibility Marketing. Large or small business, if you don”t have credibility, people will not believe what you have to say or sell.
This was first posted on The TurnKey Publishing Blog.
With the recent and tremendous growth of independent publishers, a newly emerging niche of independent publishing is CEO Publishing. CEO Publishing, as the name implies, is a specialized form of business publishing that is focused on CEOs. CEO has traditionally stood for “Chief Executive Officerâ€. However, with the growth of entrepreneurship and professionals working from home offices and smaller offices throughout the U.S., CEO also stands for “Consultants, Entrepreneurs, (business) Ownersâ€.
Many modern CEOs no longer work restrict themselves to working for Fortune 1000 companies in a corner office on the top floor of a skyscraper in a metropolitan city. Today, it is not uncommon for modern CEO”s (Consultants, Entrepreneurs, Owners) to work in smaller offices of a company they own located in the suburbs of a modest city.
This special group of CEOs are fresh, innovative, unconventional, and daring in their approach to business. They recognize the need to represent themselves and their companies with Credibility, Excellence, and Optimism. They also understand the growing importance and significance of having their own powerful calling card, their own published book.
Ambitious CEOs know they are not only chief managers for their company, they are also figureheads. They are the most important symbol and, subsequently, the public “faceâ€ for the company and the products and services they offer. They must also become Celebrities, Experts, and Opportunists as part of their ongoing marketing efforts, not simply be the traditionally-recognized Chief Executive Officer.
Moderns CEOs are beginning to recognize the role of having a published book as their business calling card for their credibility marketing and educational marketing efforts. For Consultants, Entrepreneurs, and business Owners, having a published book is the new business calling card for the 21st century.
This was first posted on “The TurnKey Publishing Blog”.
I had almost forgotten I had submitted to Midwest Book Review copies of my newest books “TurnKey Publishing” and “The TurnKey Publisher’s Audio Publishing Handbook”.
I am happy to announce they did a favorable write-up for the two books. I thank Midwest Book Review for their favorable review.
There is now a brand new two-volume series by Matthew S. Chan designed specifically to help individuals and niche groups profitable publish books as a source of revenue for themselves and/or their projects.
“TurnKey Publishing” (9781933723013, $21.95) is a complete course of step-by-step instruction on creating a commercially successful book. Chan debunks such common myths as it being too difficult to write a book, too expensive to publish a book, it being necessary to sell through bookstores to be successful, needing an agent to become reputably published. Readers will learn how to retain total creative control over their own work; use accelerated publishing to turn out three or more titles a year; produce and build a book — instead of simply writing one; sell books outside a traditional bookstore, publish outside of a traditional publisher, create a business that provides a revenue stream, convert and package personal knowledge, experience and stories into an income-producing book, and market oneself successfully even when beginning as a totally unknown author.
“The TurnKey Publisher’s Audio Publishing Handbook” (9781933723150, $20.95) has as its specific focus the creation and self-publication of an audio book and/or audio program — without going through a traditional audio book publisher or using a professional recording studio. Of special note is the cogent and practical information provided with respect to finding the right vendors to design and manufacture an audio CD package and adapting a print book to an audio book format. Every novice author aspiring to publish their manuscript and every group seeking to fund raise through publishing a book should give “TurnKey Publishing” a very careful (and profitable!) reading. Every published author and every niche publisher should carefully read “The TurnKey Publisher’s Audio Publishing Handbook” with an eye towards considering turning their print publications into an audio book format to augment their revenue stream.
Last week, Mary Krchma of Webster University’s Alumni Programs unexpectedly contacted me via email asking if I was interested in submitting my titles to their Alumni Authors Program. Being a graduate of Webster University, I was eligible for this benefit.
I asked her how she found me and how she knew I was a Webster University graduate who had published and authored books. After all, there are literally tens of thousands of alumni and I have never made any effort to stay in contact with them. She says that they find out about alumni who become authors through a variety of ways such as doing searches on Google, referrals, or word-of-mouth.
I suppose it benefits the school’s public image to know that many of their graduates have gone on to publish or author books. Seeing this as a mutual benefit, I agreed to join the Webster University Alumni Authors Program. The additional exposure can only help my publishing business.
This email came at a time when I was preparing for the dual announcement of my newly released books, “TurnKey Publishing” and “TurnKey Publisher’s Audio Publishing Handbook”.
I have been invited to their Alumni Author Book Signing Event in St. Louis on October 9, 2009. I told her I have not decided whether I would attend but I would seriously consider it. She tells me it is a fun and great networking event. I am leaning towards going because it will be an all-new experience for me.
At long last, I have finally written, published, and released both of my “TurnKey Publisher” books for general sale. They are now available and in stock at Amazon.com and BN.com.
“TurnKey Publishing” was made available in February but I did very little to promote the book at that time. I was waiting for the completion of Volume II, “The TurnKey Publisher’s Audio Publishing Handbook”. After all, this is the beginning of what I call “The TurnKey Publisher” series.
These two books really go together as a set. Volume I starts with the business of book publishing and then continues to Volume II where readers are introduced to the world of audio publishing.
Volume III, “The TurnKey Publisher’s Unstoppable Book Writing” has been announced and 50% of the book has been written. It will be a much smaller book than most books I have written thus far but I think will be essential to help those break the mental barriers that often come up in the world of publishing.
Volume IV, “The TurnKey Publisher’s Accelerated Publishing Handbook” has been announced. Nothing has been written, not even an outline. This book incorporates elements of Volumes I to III into the premise of Accelerated (quick, down, and dirty) Publishing.
I am kicking around ideas of releasing a “TurnKey Publisher” introductory audio product using some cutting edge technology. However, I don’t want to say too much right now until I finalize my decision.
2009 will be the year of “The TurnKey Publisher” series. I am quite excited and believe it will carry me well into 2010. I will be making more announcements in the following months.