Photo collage by Frank Steltzer and Rabban
Photo collage by Frank Steltzer and Rabban

PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101

KEY TO SUCCESS: own your own platform.

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I. Don’t you like freedom?

Problem one: we are slaves to the platform of big companies like Facebook and Instagram.

Why is this a problem?

We have less freedom in this closed system.

II. Instagram is a closed platform

For example, Cindy has been building up her HAPTIC INDUSTRIES Instagram and doesn’t understand or know how to get new “followers”. Some lessons learned:

  1. There is no way to “share” content on Instagram, unlike Twitter and Email. There is no concept of a “re-share” which make platforms like Tumblr better for discovery. Instagram is a closed garden.
  2. Instagram doesn’t allow you to download images as Jpeg images. We can only take screenshots. One day if you wanted to export all your images, you’re out of luck. There is no way to do it.
  3. By building up an Instagram, you encourage people to follow you on your Instagram, rather than directing them to your personal website.
  4. You need to spam people to get more followers. Pretending you’re interested in the art of others to get them to “follow back”
  5. Stress and anxiety of losing followers, and over obsession with social media likes, followers, and popularity.

Instagram is essentially a big popularity contest. And there is no “winning” (unless you’re Beyoncé or Justin Bieber).

III. New slaves

We’re new slaves to social media. And they’re trying to spoon feed you more advertisements and distractions.

Solution: own your own platform.

The steps:

  1. Register a website via bluehost.com or 1and1.com
  2. Register a domain (firstnamelastname.com)
  3. Install WordPress.org
  4. Install a theme (I recommend “Genesis”)
  5. Install a sub-theme for Genesis (I use “Monochrome” as a child theme)
  6. Start blogging and publishing photos, videos, your ideas, or information.
  7. Share blog posts on social media (using social media as a platform of sharing your stuff from your own website)

Yes, this will cost you money.

The stupid thing: we spend thousands of dollars on cameras and lenses, yet we hate spending money on apps, websites, or digital–intangible things.

This is because we have a bias to pay for physical things. Nobody likes to pay for intangible information, but we will spend a lot of money on hardcover books.

So get over the fact that you’re going to have to pay money for your website.

Skin in the game. Put your money where your heart is.

IV. Benefits of owning your own platform

I can do whatever I want on my website and blog. I can import and export a ton of photos, videos, and audio. I can change the design, and user experience. I have control to show advertisements or not to show advertisements.

If you have 100,000 followers on Instagram, you are trapped. You gotta keep advertising and publishing to Instagram, or else you will lose the attention of your followers.

While you’re publishing to your followers, they will be served (random) advertisements from Instagram.

What does Instagram want?

They want you to be addicted to their platform (like a cocaine dealer), to sell you more advertisements, and to sell your private information to advertisers.

For myself, I am skeptical. I always ask myself,

What’s in it for others?

This is why I like to pay for services. There is no hidden hook.

For example, if Google gives you free unlimited Photo storage, why do they do it? For you to buy an Android phone. Then use Google Chrome browser. Them for you to click on more Google Adsense Advertisements.

This is why Facebook “free” internet is dangerous. You will get Indians and other developing country people addicted to the platform. When you’re addicted, you know the withdrawal symptoms.

For example, if all your friends are on Facebook, and you decide not to use Facebook, you are at a disadvantage. This is a “network effect.” If everyone else in society has a smartphone and you have a “dumb phone” you’re kind of screwed.

1. Make money

Anyways I’m getting distracted.

When you own your platform, you have more freedom to make money. You’re not a YouTube slave, dependent on YouTube advertisers.

For myself, I own this blog. So I can advertise my own workshop experiences, my own books, HAPTIC products, etc.

If you’re like me, and want to make money, own your own platform.

2. Own your masters

Jay-Z owns TIDAL. He’s a genius. He’s not fighting for Spotify cents. He rather bought and owned his own platform.

I signed up for TIDAL to get his new 4:44 album. And I’ve found I love it, I have access to his entire music video and album library.

But the smart thing, is Jay-Z just has more artistic creativity and control.

You don’t want the record companies to control your “masters” (master music file). If a company owns you via a contract and complicated legal paperwork, you’re a slave. Maybe a rich slave, but still a slave (lots of rappers are slaves to rich, white, advertising executives).

V. Build your equity

My mom worked 10 years at a sushi restaurant as a waitress. She helped the business by training staff, and improving customer relationships. But after she lost her job, she didn’t own shit. She invested thousands of hours into someone else’s business, never building her own business.

If you’re a user of a “free” platform, you are the product.

Also, the more you post to Facebook and Instagram, the more you’re helping then, not yourself.

Rather feed and build yourself up.

Build equity into your own company, your own enterprise, and your own platform.

BE STRONG,
ERIC

PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101

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