Happy New Year! Last week I had the idea to create a series of blog posts called “The Annual Report”. I don’t have shareholders, or a board, or anything fancy like that. So in the traditional sense of the term, there’s not much to report. But I thought it’d be cool to do a review of the year with you guys, and base it around several topics.
What you’ll see below are various topics about me, photography, the business, etc… I dive in to each one a little here. But during the week, I’m going to go deeper into each one. Here goes:
My Top Photos of 2016
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’m going to post my top photos of 2016. Personally, it was a great year. Professionally it was a great year. And while I enjoyed my photography (probably more than ever) this past year, I don’t think I made my best photography ever – but I’m still really happy with it. Why you ask? Partly because I didn’t travel like crazy – like I used to.
Staying home doesn’t lend itself to photography much. Especially for a guy who lives in Florida and loves to photograph big waterfalls, mountains, lakes and big grand scenery. But, I did manage to squeeze a few trips in this past year. Last February my wife and I took a photo trip with friends to Iceland. No workshops, no teaching, just photography and enjoying each other’s company.
I also taught a workshop at Glacier National Park in July and had the chance to spend 5 days in Costa Rica doing some research and scouting for an upcoming workshop there.
But being at home more let me find some spots near the house too, and some of my favorite photos of the year come from places just 20 minutes away. Again though, stop back tomorrow for my top photos from 2016.
The Year of Instagram (Yeah, I’m like 7 years late!)
I also started posting to Instagram more this year. It’s always intrigued me a little, and I really didn’t get it. It’s a mobile photography sharing platform, that actually WILL NOT let you post anything from your desktop. Yet it’s riddled with professional DSLR photos. So you actually have take a photo with your DSLR, edit it on your computer, and then get those photos on to your phone to post them.
Anyway, I figured out a good workflow in Lightroom Mobile to make it easier to get my “big boy camera” photos on to my phone to share (so I’m not emailing them to myself), and decided to jump into the IG pool (that’s cool kids speak for Instagram). My verdict? Well, I’ll do a full run-down of my experience over the year in that blog post. But I can tell you that by posting a few times a week, and hash-tagging the crap out of them, I was able to grow from around 1000 followers on IG to over 17,000 today.
And here’s what’s interesting. I didn’t stack the deck. Meaning I didn’t send out emails to my email list, or posts to my Facebook or Twitter accounts and try to get those people to come follow me on IG. That follower growth came mostly from posting photos (and it didn’t hurt to start with over 1000 followers to begin with). But, when I posted, it grew – when I didn’t post, it didn’t grow. Kinda interesting though. Stop back on Wednesday to read a little more about it and to see what Instagrammers thought my top photos were.
My Wife and I Started Our Own Business!
If you missed the news back in June, I left my job to start my own photography/photo editing training business with my wife Diana. Whew! It’s been one wild ride, but a great one.
Diana handles the accounting, scheduling, marketing, ads, email list, customers, video and blog post editing, and I do the easy stuff behind the microphone/camera I wrote a lot more about it here if you want to go back and read more.
Anyway… on Thursday, I have a post called “5 Things I Learned About Running a Business”. Not really anything to do with photography, but I figure you might as well hear a little about the business side of things while we’re at it. Plus, if you’re a customer, it’ll give you some insight to what’s coming up.
But as for the business itself, it’s running great. Back in September we launched our first training course called The Ultimate Lightroom Course. Looking back, I guess I was pretty cocky in calling it the “best Lightroom training on the planet”, but I honestly do believe there’s nothing as good as it out there. I think the way most (not everyone) people teach Lightroom is wrong. Including some of the ways I’d done it in the past. So I set out to make the best, most comprehensive course, with lots of personal attention if you purchased the course during the launch week. I’m really proud of it and from the feedback I got, it was a huge help to everyone who purchased it.
As for sales… Luckily, I have a great group of people following me, and the course surpassed our expectations. Either that, or my mom really likes me and wants me to feel good, and paid some of her friends to buy the course. As you can imagine, going out on your own is stressful. I’ve always worked for someone else, so I’d get a paycheck no matter what. And when you’ve really never had to “sell” anything to your audience before, that first day when you launch the product is… well… an interesting feeling.
Even better news is that we’re on a great track for the business in 2017. We have a solid web person working on the back end of things. That’s something we really got burned on, so if there’s one thing we invested in that was it. We’ve moved to our own dedicated web server. We have more ideas for training courses than I have time to do.
We have no hopes and plans to be a big company with lots of employees, office space, etc… We plan on keeping our business a lean, small, personalized, company with only key people in place where it makes sense to have them. If I can’t serve hundreds of thousands of people so be it. But the people we do serve will get a great personal experience from a husband/wife team where every single sale counts.
Top Blog Posts of 2016
On to the blog… It’s changed a bit this year. This Friday, I’m going to post a list of the top blog posts and articles of 2016. I went through my blog and didn’t just pick the ones with the most traffic. There are various reasons why a certain post may get more traffic than others. So I also included comments and interactions in the equation to come up with the list.
But one thing you’ll notice about my blog, and something that I made a more concerted attempt at this year, is that I answer almost every comment/question. In fact, I make it very easy to get a hold of me. I put a contact form out there and answer every question that comes in best I can.
We’re very aggressive about building our email community, because we want to make sure we reward people who stop in often and make it easier for you to follow articles without always coming back to the site. If you’re part of that email community, the emails are sent from an actual real address that I respond to.
And we’ve added a Forum. So now you can stop in and ask questions there. If I don’t answer, someone else usually jumps in and does.
So… why the big change? Well, over the years I think my career got the best of me. It’s not an excuse though, and I’ll write more about that change and what’s happened in the post on Friday.
All the best for 2017. Great work and loved the course.
Congratulations on your new company. I enjoy all of your posts and have learned a lot from you this past year. I look forward to the new year with your hints and courses. I purchased your landscape preset package and it has helped me improve my image processing 100%, so thanks again for that. I am hoping that you will create some training videos that will concentrate on more in depth processing of photos in Lightroom, file importing and libraries are important but I’m ready to move forward with more detailed processing. Happy New Year.
I understand that feeling. I worked as an independent consultant for five years back in the late 90s and early 2000’s. Then I worked as an employee for ten years at the same company. I went back to consulting in 2013. The market has changed a lot. Today, there are many more services for billing, marketing, etc catering to the independent. But what has not changed is the uncertainty. Being at the top of your game and offering your clients incredible service and value will definitely make things easier. I think you got that covered, Matt.
Hi Matt, Can you share with us your “workflow” for getting our DSLR photos from our desktop on to Instagram? Thanks
I”m going to guess it involves importing images to Lightroom on the desktop, picking the one he wants to edit, making his edits in Lightroom, adding the final edit to Lightroom collection which syncs to Lightroom Mobile. Using Lightroom mobile to make final edits or to post to Instagram. You’ll need a Creative Cloud subscription.
Hi James. Did you watch my free Lightroom Mobile course? https://mattk.com/lightroom-mobile-tutorial
That shows how to create a collection on the Desktop, and then Sync it so it shows up on your phone. From there, you can share away.
Don’t Tell Matt, but I would have paid double what he charged for the Lightroom course – it was that good! I have been paying for training for 10 years and the LR course is best I have ever experienced!! Looking forward to more training that will get me to the next level of my never ending war with the computer part of my photography.
Thank you for exceptional service and a wonderful product.
I won’t tell me Kent! Seriously though, thanks so much for the glowing testimonial. Now when we charge $300 for the next course, everyone will know who to blame 😉
This is the sort of Annual Report I love to read! Happy New Year to you both and I am sure your new venture will be a terrific success and am looking forward to keeping track.
Much success for 2017 Matt and Diana. What you have provided in 2016 is nothing short of amazing. I look forward to all that you have planned for 2017
Happy New Year, Matt and Diana! Thank you for the training last year, both on ON1 and in your new venture! Looking forward for new exciting things to come this year!
Interesting what you said about Instagram.
I love your training videos Matt. You do a fantastic job….making complex easy. Look forward to a photoshop course for beginners similar to you ultimate Lightroom.
Interesting reading. I love your work and look forward to seeing more.
Matt – I’ve found a damn good lightroom desktop -> Instagram plugin that I’ve been using for a while now and posted about (http://hoke.org/john/2016/08/lightroom-instagram-plugin/) may be worth giving it a shot – works flawlessly and I’ve made it part of my workflow for a few months
On another note – *THANK YOU* for all your help, support and tips in 2016 … one day they will ‘sink in’ and I’ll get better at this crazy hobby of mine
Happy New Year to you and yours
Thanks John. I’ve used this before as well. I actually have a post written for tomorrow where I mention it. Sad part is, it’s against the terms of service for IG. Once they feel like it they can have it shut down. They’ve done it before with other apps. But hopefully they won’t notice 😉
Your teaching style is clear and humble…which makes learning easy.
I preferred your teaching at NAPP. As you moved to ON1, I rejoined On1,.as it ventured into new software. I am moving out of ON1 membership to lean on your new venture. My images process & flow “better” in PS, but with your new Lightroom training, much felt awkwardness and questions are solved..
For last 10 years, I’ve sold images through Oregon area art festivals . Festivals sales suddenly died mid 2016 summer. I have avoided social media, but look forward (at last) to see how Instagram works for you. Any insights or short class coming from you soon?
Hey Ron. Thanks for following me. I really appreciate the support.
I just finished writing the Instagram post for tomorrow. Feel free to let me know what you think and if I missed anything after you read the post and maybe I can help address it. Thanks!
I have followed you for years…..love your style of teaching. Signed up and am enjoying your latest course…..Allen Weizmann is so right….you have always answered my questions in an intelligent and timely manner. So a big thanks for that. Best wishes to you and your wife for a prosperous New Year.
Good luck and continuing success, Matt!
Happy New Year Matt and best wishes for success.
I’ve always been a fan of yours over the years and appreciate that you’ve taken the time to write back when writing back was appropriate.
Looking forward to your post tomorrow
Looking forward to your in depth blogs this week. Glad this is going well for you. Don’t forget to change your website copyright to 2017!
Your Annual Report covered a lot of ground.
Can’t wait to see the things you come up with and I’ll probably learn a lot.
Success to your new business venture and keep on shooting.
Good luck on your new venture..