I marvel at toilet bowl cleaner commercials, especially those Scrubbing Bubbles. Remember those? They take one of the worst household chores and try to make it seem fun. The commercial features thousands of little animated bubbles with scrubbing brushes for legs that “work hard so you don’t have to.” With each squirt of the product, you are sending thousands of these Bubble-Brush hybrids to work. While you watch a movie or go shopping or eat bonbons leisurely by the pool while your cabana boy, Sven, brings you fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them, this army of determined bubbles are busy scrubbing your toilet.
Now, I’ve used this product multiple times and never once did I see any brushes attached to the bubbles. Nor did I see eyes. Which, really, is a good thing, because I would have freaked if I did. And, having used it, I still had to get in there with a toilet brush and do some work on my own which makes me think the Scrubbing Bubbles are either liars or slackers.
In this world of marketing and advertising, we must sell the EASY because nobody wants to buy the difficult.
Reality doesn’t sell.
- Nobody is going to buy a toilet bowl cleaner with the tag line: “it’s a good product, but you’ll still need to scrub.”
- Nobody is going to buy a lotion with the tag line: “your hands will feel great for a couple hours, and then you’ll need more.”
- Nobody is going to use a rental car service with the tag line: “we pick you up, but you’ll wait for at least two hours.”
- Nobody is going to buy a diet plan with the tag line: “eating this way is a start, but you must move your body to see results. “
Advertising is geared at selling the sizzle, the glitz, the glamor. And, really, that’s as it should be; it’s the nature of the beast.
And in our photography industry, we see that, too. We see other photographers, especially those with very little time in the business, selling the EASY.
Example: I attended a program once in which a newborn photographer claimed she photographed one session every day, spent about an hour in the session, and then another hour with the client while she ordered, edited the $1500 order and then sent it all off to the lab. Her work day was appx 3 hours and then, she was off to spend time with her kids. Easy peasy.
Yeah, and I have monkeys flying out of my butt. They are little monkeys, of course, but still, they are flying out of there.
I sat in the room and thought, are photographers truly buying this? And I looked around the room at the rapt faces, entranced and excited by the story of how easy this photography thing is; how much money they could make while still enjoying gobs of free time. It was almost hypnotic. I think the speaker could have said, “When I snap my fingers, you all are chickens” and the whole room would have erupted in clucking. And I marveled at how much money this woman would be making selling her program to other photographers. She would TOTALLY be lounging by the pool with Sven later.
And yet, we see this all the time, don’t we? These pitches to photographers are everywhere. They flood our inbox daily:
- You can have “passion, profits and time for a great life.”
- You can be “wildly successful.”
- “0 to Six-Figures FAST”
- “It’s easy to harness your PASSION and become RICH”
- “Simple tips to take your business to the NEXT LEVEL.”
And I read these things and want to get rid of them with a huge blast of Scrubbing Bubbles.
Listen: If you own a business, ANY business, and run that business LIKE a business, expect to work hard to be successful. Work smart, yes, but also hard.
There is no shortcut.
Now, I know that advice doesn’t sell. Nobody wants to hear that if they choose to make photography their career, and they are serious about it, they can expect to work long hours, they will be tired, they will have to push themselves, their back and hands and feet will ache, they will have worries, they will have headaches, they will miss certain events because they are working, and they will never be able to sit back and say, “Okay, I’m successful now; I can stop working so hard.” That will never happen, just as you will never say:
- “I’ve lost ten pounds; I can stop eating healthy.”
- “I’ve put 100,000 miles on my car; I can stop putting gas in it.”
- “I just got my degree; I can stop learning now.”
You can play in photography as much as you’d like (and it sure is fun to play) but if you want to make it a serious business, then be prepared to work hard. Run fast and far from those selling you advice that says anything other than that.
Remember, you have picked a glorious, wonderful, creative, amazing career…give it the hard work it demands. It deserves nothing less, and neither do you. xoxo
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Missy Mwac is a photographer/eater of bacon/drinker of vodka and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can follow her social media links here: Facebook, Tumblr. This article was also published here and shared with permission. Lead image by Fernando Kokubun (by-sa).