Repeat Slowly

Space Shuttle Endeavour travels on Manchester Blvd. to 405 Freeway bridge.

Photo by Barry Schwartz

Sometimes it takes awhile before I understand something is important. Not infrequently the way I achieve that state of higher consciousness is through repetition.

So for instance. I’ve been told countless times what kinds of steps to take to encourage Google to notice my websites. It does not consist of standing up and waving my arms, either metaphorically or actually. The most important thing are the words in a website, and (a bit less than it used be) what’s in the underlying code. Pry open any website and you can see it yourself: the words “description” and “title” and “keywords” and “meta” followed by strings of words and sentences. I’m no coder, but I can read the English language pretty good, and there on successful creative types’ websites are all those words just lying around, waiting to be studied. Ordinary words, not code.

But it did not ring a bell for me until about the fiftieth time I looked, and after I re-jiggered the words on (and in) my own site, I seemed to get found a bit more often by people who might hire me. This was Google happiness, leading directly to an increase in my own happiness.

After hearing over and over about the importance of exercising my vision in order to separate myself from the masses of similarly competent professionals, and to show the work I want to get, I began to put on my photography site the kinds of pictures I never get hired to do but produce anyway because I love them and can’t help myself. One such shot was a closeup of a light fixture on a stucco wall at dusk.

I got contacted – and hired – by a major publication and when I asked what made the editor think of me she mentioned that photo. Been showing those images ever since.  What’s more I  find that clients pick those kinds of images from assignments even when they were not asked for in the original contract.

I teach classes and workshops about business practices for creatives, and I always stress the importance of marketing and the critical aspect of repetition. (Repetition, as any teacher can tell you, is an absolute requirement to get across the importance of anything – including repetition – to students.) I tell them potential clients have to hear from them over and over for their work to stand out.

One day, some long period after I began to teach on the side, I realized my own marketing efforts had lapsed into near non-existence, and my career might follow right along. In other words, things got really slow. It was time to take my own advice. The repetition I needed to hear I also needed to hear from myself.

You never know where you might learn something. Again.

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