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13 Reasons why I’ve stopped referring work to specific photographers

First and foremost, I want to say that I’m no saint.  I’m guilty of a lot of the characteristics I’ve listed below, and this post is partly to share my lessons so that you can learn from my mistakes.

The other part is to help you stop acting like a dumbass.




So in my time as a photographer, I often run into scenarios where I’m either:

1.  Already booked on a date that someone has inquired

2.  Out of the price range of a prospective client.

In both of these situations, I want to help everyone as best I can and create a symbiotic relationship so everyone wins.  The client gets a quality photographer, the photographer gets new work, and I get to retain good customer service by connecting the two.  WIN WIN WIN.

However, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of stress that I’ve gone through in trying to find reliable photographers that I feel comfortable referring.  Like it or not, whoever you vouch for is an extension of your brand – and how they perform is a reflection on YOU!

So with that – I try to find photographers that I can stand behind and feel comfortable referring on a regular basis.  (Some might not know this, but I actually follow-up with those potential clients to find out how the experience was.)

If the photographer messes up, it’s a hard conversation to have to tell them what they need to work on.  A lot of times they take things personal, and it’s really unnecessary drama that I don’t really need.  Especially considering that I’m the one offering them work.  So most often now, I’ll just stop referring work without telling them why – and move on to another photographer.  (Or if it’s in an inquiry for an area of photography where I don’t know anyone that excels, I hate to say this…but I’ll actually just respond with a “sorry but I’m not available email” instead of referring them to a photographer that has shitty work/service.

I decided to create this post for my future/past 2nd’s to consider, and also to communicate my expectations for my referral circle – so that everyone can be on the same page.

(PS – if you’re a photographer who used to receive a lot of work from me and is now reading this, I will gladly explain why I don’t refer to you anymore – AS LONG AS YOU DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL.  Sorry for yelling, but it just seems ass-backwards for someone to get upset at someone that’s trying to give them work.)


13 Reasons you’re cutting yourself short from getting more business


1.  Ego – I can’t even believe that I have to include this as it’s so ridiculous - but it’s also the most prevalent.  A photographer will communicate with the client in a way that comes across as pretentious or as if they wont take direction.  While you may very well know which shot may look better, or if the client suggests an idea that may not be the best…it’s important to make them feel like you’re on the same team.  Never come across arrogant.

2.  Ego (again) - However this time I’m referring to 2nd shooters at weddings.  1st shooter makes the call.  You listen.  That should be enough said already – but I’ll elaborate because I like you.  Don’t ever question the 1st shooters ideas/techniques (ESPECIALLY in front of the bride and groom) – and if you’re to make suggestions, do so in private and don’t come across as if you “know it all”.  Ideally, you want to bring it up so it comes across as if it were THEIR idea in the first place.  I know you want to show them how great you are, but the best way of doing so is to find what it is they particularly want out of you – and FOCUS ON THAT!  You can bet your ass you’ll be hired again, and maybe even referred a wedding that’s under their price range.

3.  Bad Product – This really should have been first, but it’s really a given.  A big lesson I’ve learned is not to judge a 2nd shooter’s ability by their portfolio.  Or ANY photographer at that.  While they may have some awesome shots on there – it’s more important to see consistency.  I’ve recommended photographers in the past that I thought were on top of their game, only to find out that they weren’t quite there yet – and were most likely just using some “lucky” shots on their portfolios.  Don’t be offended if I ask to see a few complete galleries or full weddings that you’ve shot.

4.  Bad Service – It’s like getting the wind knocked out of you when you hear that someone you referred has taken months to deliver someone’s images.  I vouched for you!  It’s like the scene in Tony Montana when he fails to kill the mark.  Sosa tells him “there’s not going to be a next time”.  And look what happened.  Point is, I’m going to expect reasonable turn-around, and reasonable communication.  Be professional on the phone, don’t answer just waking up at 11 AM, and don’t answer in a crazy party.  Make sure they know you’re attentive and alert, and they have your full attention.

5.  Unprofessionalism online – If you’re doing any of the things listed in #1 on this post, I’m probably not going to refer you.  But that’s just me.  Others might be different, but I hold online presence to a high standard – and I’d be embarrassed if a client I referred found you online and you had some alarming personality traits that would cause a client to question your stability.

6.  Being socially awkward - If you’re quiet in person and can’t make clients comfortable around you - that’s a deal-breaker.  Like I mentioned above, referring you to my potential clients is an extension of my brand.  My brand is fun, upbeat, outgoing, and ON TOP OF IT.  Be comfortable in your own skin, and I’ll be comfortable referring you.

7.  Unwillingness to try something new – I’ll actually use a specific time in the past for this one, since I still refer him.  About 6 months ago, I asked my friend Mark if he’d be down to shoot a PR event (awards ceremony/speakers/grip & grin) and he felt he wasn’t equipped for it.  I knew that he had the gear, he was just worried that he wouldn’t be able to get the right images.  I have no doubt in my mind that he would have done great, but he didn’t think so.  And often times I’ve been completely willing to bring them along on one of my events so that they’re comfortable with expectations – and THEY’RE STILL SCARED.  So in the end, their fear has gotten the best of them, and have missed out on growing and gaining more work as a result.  Their loss.

8.  Being a pain in the ass – I’m guessing this one is going to be bias on my end, but I really don’t prefer working with people who stress me out.  You’ll get paid.  Rest assured.  But if you’re constantly bugging me about $50 or something insignificant like the cost of valet at an event you shot for me, I’m going to remember it.  I haven’t *not paid* a single photographer in my entire career.  It’s bad business.  But I also believe it’s bad business to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth and be remembered as “the annoying one”.

9.  Bad Presentation – You don’t dress professional, you’re unkempt, or your breath stinks.  Okay, I know the last part was a little harsh – but it stems from an experience I had in a nightclub one time.  I was talking to another photographer who’s work I respected, and his breath was terrible (you have to talk close because the music is so loud).  It was so bad, that while I had intention of talking business with him, I was more eager to end the conversation so I could get away from him!  It’s silly to think that something that trivial could affect an entire relationship, but it did.  (From then on, I made sure to bring gum with me whenever shooting nightlife.)

10.  I don’t like you -  I’m a part of an online forum based in San Diego, and I’ve had conversations with photographers who’s work is GREAT – but they argue with me and take things personal.  And while I don’t doubt they’re on top of their game when it comes to their business…if I don’t like them – I’m not exactly excited to help them “win” in a symbiotic relationship.  I know, it’s messed up – but I’m being real.  Also, if we come from different backgrounds (age group, lifestyle, perspective on life) – odds are I won’t be inclined to bring you on as a 2nd.  I like to vibe well with who I shoot with, as I just feel it helps the energy gain momentum and the process of the day flow smoothly.

11.  Price point – This is an essential factor, but one that’s expected.  To help ensure I’m sending you the right leads, if you change your pricing or just want me to be familiar with your costs, I’d love it if you would send me an info sheet.  I don’t want to mismatch clients with photographers outside their range – in the same way I don’t want to refer gigs to photographers under what they’d be willing to accept.  While this one isn’t surprising, it’s definitely one to consider.  And flexibility is always a benefit, as I’ll be more inclined to send more referrals your way.

12.  Style – Another given, but it’s important to make the distinction that it’s not something personal.  You might be a GREAT portrait photographer, but I’m looking for someone more photojournalistic and familiar with candids.  Nothing wrong with that, just not the right fit.  My friend Brett reminded me of this point, thanks man!

13. Biting business – This applies to both referrals AND 2nd shooters.  What an idiotic thing to do…bite the hand that feeds you!  There’s a certain photographer that I specifically wont refer to even though he is great at photography because he has a reputation for stealing clients, and never referring out.  When it comes to 2nd shooters – NEVER EVER EVER pass out your own business card when associate shooting or 2nd shooting.  This shouldn’t even have to be written – and it’s really unfortunate that people do this.




6 Reasons that Cause Me to Keep Referring to You!

1.  Awesome personality - My roommate has told me he’d hire someone that has a better personality but not as good quality of photos for 2nd shooting a wedding merely for the effect that their energy has on the day.  Pretty crazy huh?  Well, I agree.  Although I’m VERY picky with who I choose to come on board, so both better be on point.  I’ve got about 3-4 guys that I love working with regularly, and I’m so stoked that I’ve connected with them.

2.  Make it easy as possible for me - A 2nd shooter of mine in San Francisco arrived with coffee in hand when she met me to shoot a wedding last year, and it made a big impression!  I love things like that, and when a photographer makes the process ‘enjoyable’ rather than just ‘good’, it goes a long way.  That goes with payment too.  Accept Square?  Awesome.  Paypal?  Even better!

3.  Create amazing images I wouldn’t recognize on my own - This is actually a big factor in my thought process to hire 2nd photographers.  I’ll pay a higher price point for someone as experienced as myself or MORE experienced so that I can be assured good imagery from them.  If they impress me and show me something that fits with my brand but is something I’ve yet to try out – they’re “IN.”  Mark (who I mentioned above) really wowed me with some images at a wedding we shot last year, which led me to book him as my 2nd photographer for a Cabo wedding that I have this year.

4.  Being flexible in price, or willing to invest in themselves or ‘our relationship’ - There are times when I’m doing a shoot that I don’t necessarily have a budget for an additional shooter, but recognize that there would be a ton of value in bringing one on.  As I’ve done with some consistent clients, I really appreciate it when photographers will just opt to “help out” without worrying about payment.  Sometimes you have to take a step back, think about how much business someone is bringing you – and show them you appreciate it.  *Take note*

5.  Returning the favor - Another illusive obvious – but when someone regularly refers me work – I always think about what gigs I can send them to help them out.  I referred about 5-6 weddings to a photographer last year with no reciprocation.  Well, guess what…my referral circle has now changed.

6.  Going above and beyond when 2nd shooting - My friend Jeff Youngren wrote a great post about ALL of this kind of stuff, and really – he hits the nail right on the head.  Check it out if you wanna learn how to get in a photographer’s good graces.


If you got a lot out of this post, and think other photographers can get value out of it as well, I’d be stoked if you shared this.  And as always – love/hate mail is always welcomed in the comments below, would be glad to talk about any of these topics with you!




hiring 2nd photographers


(PS – this photo above is of my friend Jason Kirby when we were making our ridiculous holiday christmas card portraits last year.  And so you know – Jason currently gets a good portion of my on-site printing corporate clients.  He avoids all 13 points mentioned above very well, and I’m happy to refer him business.)

Lauren - GREAT post, Tim! “Make it easy as possible for me” is the part that gets me when I’ve hired 2nd shooters. If you’re running late, otherwise stressing me out, or just getting in my way, that’s it. No more chances. The other points are definitely valid but this is the one that’s a deal breaker for me.March 21, 2013 – 6:14 am

Joe McDonald - Good info Tim, might be fun to deliver as a video with graphs, & pics.March 20, 2013 – 10:22 pm

Tim - All – thank you so much for the support! It means a lot coming from so many well respected peers in the industry.

Mandy – when you show up for work, your attire is apparent to EVERYONE sees and makes an assessment on your presentation/appearance. I don’t write on my blog to please clients or try to gain new business – it’s really just an outlet for me to share my life experiences and help others that want the same. I’m sorry you feel my grammar makes such an impression, but I do hope you realize that being proper, being the best, or being the most liked isn’t what always results in the one who gets the business. I do thank you for taking the time to circle back and vent your frustration – it means a lot to me.March 20, 2013 – 2:30 pm

Brett - Well said Tim. Content is spot on and I think it will help a lot of photographers – new and seasoned – take a look in the mirror and become better at what they do. Thanks for writing this great post!March 20, 2013 – 12:23 pm

Mandy - So if you don’t dress “professional” then you’re out.

But I guess if you don’t talk or write “professional” then it’s ok because you’re an artist?

What a load of hypocritical BS to excuse sloppy writing and poor grammar.March 20, 2013 – 11:41 am

jeremy - Photography is such an ecoteric field, a layman rarely gets a glipmses to read it. Thanks for yet again, an insightful and interesting read. Keep ‘em coming. “Especially the bad breath party is so common in clubs” Slay the dragon-breather. Makes a HUGE difference at work.March 19, 2013 – 11:04 pm

Candice Benjamin - Another reason why you are awesome. Thank you for keeping it real. :)March 19, 2013 – 10:39 pm

Tim - Thanks Michelle! And as a matter of fact, I’m planning a couple additional posts on second shooting – one to explain the value to brides and one to talk about what I particularly look for in a 2nd shooter/assistant. (I’m actually considering bringing on 3rd shooters as well)March 19, 2013 – 6:29 pm

Michelle - I may be alone in this, but I like grammar errors. It is proof that you are human. One of the most intelligent men in my life is horrible when it comes to spelling and grammar and I still think he is one of the smartest men on this planet.

I think your points are SPOT on. Your referrals ARE an extension of your brand. I would also love to see a similar post where you expand on second shooting :)March 19, 2013 – 6:24 pm

Jen Jar - Tim, EXCELLENT post! It’s a sad truth, but in our industry there are SO many photographers who can’t control their own egos. They all need to read this and hopefully gain a new perspective :)March 19, 2013 – 5:12 pm

Rich - Hey Mandy,
Lighten up! It’s a blog, not the Wall Street Journal! He says right there at the top, first line in fact, he’s not a saint.

Get over the grammar and take in the message.

Great post Tim!March 19, 2013 – 4:23 pm

Tim - And come to think of it, I think it actually *is* proper grammar. “Personal” categorizes between objective/personal and “professional” refers to attire – professional/casual/etc. While they both work with the “LY” at the end, they function the same without.March 19, 2013 – 4:10 pm

Tim - Mandy, thanks for the comment! I appreciate the time and effort you put in to correct me. And while it may not be completely proper grammar, I actually don’t really think it’s completely necessary to be the best writer to be successful at what I do. I capitalize entire words – which isn’t proper either, but it makes the point. And that’s what’s most important to me.

I wasn’t the top of my class in English lit, but I have been pretty successful in my business and what works/what doesn’t. So in that sense, I feel comfortable talking about my personal/professional experience with others in the past, and point out what habits may be causing others to miss out on work.

I’m not trying to attack you, but clarify where I’m coming from. Hope it comes across the right way.March 19, 2013 – 3:59 pm

Mandy - Someone who is complaining about how others present themselves should really look at their own presentation.

People dress professionalLY
People take things personalLY

Both of those are adverbs. Adverbs modify verbs and end in -ly.

Please learn proper grammar and writing before you criticize others for how they present themselves. Your writing sounds ignorant and uneducated and it doesn’t leave you a lot of room to talk about others.March 19, 2013 – 3:52 pm

Case of the Fridays – Sales Copy Writer Craig Clemens

Today I’ve chosen Copy Writer Craig Clemens for today’s post of “Case of the Fridays“.  Craig works wherever his laptop can travel with him, and is based out of NYC.  His work is structured in a residual income format along with associate marketing sales, so he has basically created a job where he is his own boss – and is forever giving himself a raise.


I chose Craig because of the lifestyle he’s created for himself, and the kind of freedom he expresses in his online social media.  A lot of people worry about what employers might think about certain posts or whether it might affect client relationships – however Craig expresses a personality purely candid, and honest.  While he’s not a crazy partier getting drunk every night, he post photos of fun celebrations during nights out with friends, adventures to burning man, and some pretty personal sentiments from his private life.  It’s refreshing to see that kind of candor, and I’m happy to have him featured on today’s interview.

We met up during my recent trip to NYC, and the interview took place at a French Restaurant L’Ecole in his neighborhood on the lower east side of Manhattan.

Here’s an image to give you a visual for the conversation taking place.


What is your name/age?


Craig Clemens – 33


What is your occupation?


I’m a partner in a digital marketing company in which I am the copywriter. That means I write the sales and marketing material that gets people to invest in our products


Where did you grow up?


Thousand Oaks, CA


How long have you been doing what you currently do?


I started off in sales when I was 21, and bounced around various boilerroom-esq phone sales jobs – mortgage broker, I sold credit card merchant accounts, Direct TV, you name it.

Then I found myself 24 years old living in San Diego broke as a joke. I remember one month I had to sell my TV for $50 to make rent, and I used to go to McDonalds with coupons to get the $1 off the value meal for lunch.


But I had a friend, his name was Eben, and he had just written a book on how to meet women that he was selling online as an “eBook”. It was called, “Double Your Dating” and he was doing really well with it. Like REALLY freakin well. I told him I wanted to come to work for him doing ANYTHING to figure out how he was making so much money. I think he was pulling in 70K a month at this time. But he didn’t see a place where I would fit in.


One of the parts of his business was an email newsletter where he would write dating tips. He told me every time he would send out a newsletter he would make 4K in sales. I got on the list and started reading them and thought, I can write this stuff”… so I wrote one and sent it to him. I hoped he would like it and offer me 10% – $400 – to write them for him. If remember thinking if he said yes and I could write one a week that would be life-changing money!


We get on the phone and he does offer me a job… but FULL TIME and at 3K a month. That was a lot of money for my broke McDonald’s eating ass at the time and I was STOKED.


I started off with him working as a customer service-response team member, and managing the affiliate program. Eventually I got into buying media and other various things – I probably did 5 or 6 different things before I found my sweet spot – writing the sales copy.



Eben had been writing all the sales copy himself at the time – as converting eyes to buyers is critical to a new business. But as he created more and more products – an online dating program, a program for women on how to land a great man called, “Catch Him & Keep Him”, etc – the company needed more writing firepower, so he began training me.

After about 6 months of training, listening to marketing experts while I drove everywhere in my car, and studying what the experts wrote, and writing a whole lot of TERRIBLE copy, I finally got to the point where I could write something Eben thought was good enough to send to the mailing list.


The first thing I wrote got sent out to over a million people, and it was the most exciting thing ever hitting “refresh” and watching the sales in our shopping cart increase.


Soon Eben and I were working as a team, creating all the copy together. Eventually the business grew to 20 million a year… with 80 employees and they were all virtual.  They all had the ability to travel if they wanted so long as they achieved RESULTS, which everyone of course loved. We all worked really hard yet still had great lifestyles – it was an exciting time and I’ll always be thankful for the experience.


While some of the other positions in that company – if you were working for a more traditional firm, usually do require you to be in an office, copywriting is one where if you are good you can set your own terms. Most companies won’t care so long as you are consistently producing awesome stuff. So it’s worth it to put the work in to become good.

Plus it’s recession-proof – every company needs sales so the demand for great writers stays high no matter what the economy. You may have to shift from selling yachts to selling economical cars, but there will always be companies needing your service! A great writer can charge 25K or more plus royalties for a single package and smart entrepreneurs will happily pay it… as they know the right sales letter can turn their idea into gold.


You mentioned you had another way you were making money online?


Yes, around 2006 my brother and I started an Affiliate Marketing company. Affiliate Marketing means marketing other people’s products on commission… so say someone has an Anti-Virus program they sell for $50. If I send them a customer who buys it, they will gladly pay me a commission out of that… usually 50-75%. So you are essentially an online traffic broker.


Back in the day this was very easy. I remember my first month doing this I made $330, and thinking that now I could eat Baja Fresh every day for lunch instead of McDonald’s just on that money alone!


In those days we were buying keywords on Google and sending them directly to the merchant sites, which Google doesn’t allow any more. My brother Curt turned out to be a real genius at it and mostly due to his awesomeness this company soon started doing MASSIVE numbers. The best part with these campaigns is if you found a winner you could set it up and it would pretty much run itself… literally a money-making machine. So when Eben and I parted ways I shifted focus to that.


These days the game is very different, so if someone is looking to get into affiliate marketing I recommend trying SEO (getting free traffic) versus buying it. My friend Kelly Felix has an awesome course called where he shows people how to do this, and some of his students are making very big money.


Did you have a 9-5 job before that?


All my sales jobs were commission aside from one.  But one of them definitely expected us to show up everyday.

I had a sales job for Direct TV that was pretty much 8-5 and that was terrible.  I remember walking out of that job feeling like so much of my day was gone.  Didn’t have enough energy to go to the gym afterwards, and if I did – my day was gone at that point.


What kind of business do you currently have now?


The Affiliate company lead to Curt and I forming a partnership with our other brother Mark and a 4th business partner, Josh, where we started creating our own brands. We focus on men’s health and nutrition, and organic cosmetics for women. We have a beautiful office in Woodland Hills and are always hiring, so if someone is interested in learning marketing while working at an exciting company definitely have them get in touch with me. The parent company is called Golden Hippo Media and they can learn more at our website,


How much longer do you envision yourself working in the field that you’re in?


Forever.  I’ll always be doing some kind of marketing or consulting, for my own brands or others I find exciting.


What level of schooling have you completed?


Went to junior college for like a year and then dropped out.  My main schooling was driving around listening to the old marketing masters – there was a good 3 year period when I listened to ONLY marketing programs, never the radio. And learning from Eben – he’s one of the best copywriters in the game so getting to learn directly from him was invaluable.


What is it that you love about your work?


There’s a lot of different ways I could answer that question – we get 20-30 emails a day from customers telling us how our products have changed their lives.  Those are some of the most rewarding emails to read – where your job is really making a difference in someone’s life.

I’ve recognized some of our limited edition products while I’ve been out and that’s awesome to see.  Seeing something you’ve worked on to help develop or promote being used or consumed in public by someone you don’t know – that’s a pretty unique feeling.

I also love split-testing – putting 2 pieces of sales copy up and seeing which converts the best. It’s fascinating because it’s often NOT what you think! We do that on the internet all day and it’s fun and educational


What is your least favorite thing about your work?


You never really know what’s gonna win in a split-test.  No matter how much you study or how much research you do – you’re never know what’s gonna win.

I recently spent a good month writing what I thought was an incredible sales package for a new fitness product. I was pre-celebrating because I thought people were gonna love it… and it totally bombed.


Is there anything you miss about life back home? 


The thing I miss the most – is the bars closing at 2 am.  Several reasons – if you go out and have an enjoyable night, you’re in bed by 2:15.  In NYC, the bars really get going around 1…so if you’re going out – YOU’RE GOING OUT.  I guess that’s why I’m more of a homebody these days. 


What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?


If you’re  a copywriter vs a corporate career, you have the opportunity to create a massive home run. One of my marketing mentors, Gary Bencivenga, bought a house in the Hamptons off the earnings of just ONE sales package he wrote! But as I mentioned earlier, sometimes you spend a few weeks writing something that bombs, so there is a trade-off, but you gotta love that home run potential. 


What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?


You’re directly responsible for your own income as far as finding clients, which some people have a hard time with. Also, if your clients aren’t making big money, it’s hard for you to make big money – which depends on their skills marketing and running their businesses, and many other factors besides the sales copy. So my advice for new writers coming up is to align yourself with a company that either already has big earnings (and knows the value of great copy – many don’t), or has great potential.



How different is the dating scene for you?  Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?


Way easier.  I can do an extended lunch date or take a long weekend off… I even ALMOST pulled off a long-distance relationship! (don’t try that at home). When it does become difficult though is when a girl has her own career that requires her to work crazy amounts of hours. A woman with her own thing going on is VERY attractive, but if she is putting in 50 hour weeks or can’t take vaca time, we can’t take as many trips as I would like, etc


Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?  Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?


I don’t ever gamble at casinos, but when it comes to income – I’d rather swing for the fences rather than have a steady income.  Even days when I was in commission sales – I was always geared on having a paycheck based off what I produced vs. how many hours I spent in the office.


Along these lines, I’m  currently looking to invest in small businesses, online or otherwise, that require up to 250K in start-up capital. Rather than investing in real estate or whatever I want to plant a few “seeds” this way in the hopes one blows up! So if any of your readers  have concepts they want to launch have them get in touch with me. Doesn’t have to be a new idea either (for example I want one of them to be a juice bar.)


I’m also a firm believer in investing in your own continued education. I still read at least one copywriting book a month and I recently started working with a $500 per hour executive coach who has helped me increase my productivity tremendously. When I was working for Eben, he paid $5000 for me to go to Gary Benivenga’s copywriting seminar. And that cost benefited him 10-fold in terms of the work that I produced after coming back.


Right now I’m re-reading the classic double-book, “My Life In Advertising” and “Scientific Advertising”, by Claude Hopkins. David Oglivy (founder of legendary ad agency Oglivy & Mather) says no one has any business being in advertising in any sense unless they’ve read it 7 times… well I’m on number 2! If you want to get started in copy writing – read those. You can probably find it in a free PDF download by Googling around, or just get on on amazon for 10 bucks or whatever. I’m having my whole company re-read it right now including my business partners and we are getting new nuggets of wisdom even though it’s written about marketing campaigns that are almost 100 years old! (Hopkins launched many famous brands like Pepsodent toothpaste, Goodyear tires, etc)


How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?


It’s funny – whenever my accountant calls and asks if I want to contribute to my IRA…”well shit – if I’m 59 years old and that little $49,000 of security means anything – that’ll be a bad sign.”  I don’t see myself ever totally retiring as I truly love writing and see myself doing it til my time here is done (though doing creative writing, not writing copy, that DOES get old!)


Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?


Yes and yes.


What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?


Everything combined.  It’s equally important to excel in all areas as I feel they all affect each other.  It all goes together – I always try to live a balanced lifestyle.  When I create a family, I’ll try to have all the values gain equal amounts of attention.


If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?


Now’s the time to try new things and do what you like.  You can always make more money and you can always have a steady job as a fall-back.


If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?


You have to be dedicated to educating yourself and have the thick skin to know that a lot of the writing you do is going to suck.  That’ll be in the first 6 months – your work wont be usable or at the level suitable to sell.  A lot of the writing you’ll do in your career wont be sellable.

Also interesting to note is that most English majors actually have a problem getting into sales copy writing, as it ignores a lot of the traditional rules of ‘correct’ writing. What matters more is being a good SALESPERSON. If someone has a 6th grade reading/writing level but is a great salesperson, I’ll hire them over a screenwriter or novelist. So just because you don’t THINK you are a good writer doesn’t mean you can’t be a copywriter. I’m pretty sure I failed at least one English class on my way up!



Who inspires you?


Tim King.  Haha, but really you inspire me to travel that’s for damn sure.

My greatest marketing mentor in the world is Gary Halbert.

Michael Masterson – he’s started several amazing direct marketing companie… love his books and he was kind enough to meet with us and give us some advice which helped us tremendously. “Ready, Fire, Aim” – is the book that introduced him to me and, “Great Leads”, one of his many copywriting books, is also a must-read.


What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?


I guess I’ve always had a real problem doing homework – which is funny because I have a passion for studying copy writing.





What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?


A circus ringmaster.


What are some of your favorite sounds?


Jack Johnson.  I used to go to his concerts.  The boom of the dynamite exploding inside the wooden man at burning man.


What’s your favorite curse word?




What’s your favorite memory from your past? 


Necker island when Richard Branson was there.  Will always be a great memory.  Bungee jumped the Macua tower which is the highest bungee jump in the world.  Had to do a lot of prep for that and I did it extremely well.  Was really happy with myself.


If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?


I think I’d be an owl.  Because owls rely more on their wisdom to survive in life that hard physical exertion.  I see an owl as a guy that hangs out in a tree and just sits back, letting other birds come ask him for advice, people asking about tootsie rolls…and if he feels like getting a mouse he’ll go down and do it.


What are some of your favorite smells?


I mean women just smell very good.  I actually like the smell of gasoline and tires.  Sandlewood candles.  You know Victoria’s Secret really just kills it with the perfumes.  You also can’t compare to having an apartment on the sand.


If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?


Doc Holliday in the movie Tombstone.


If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?


I’d go back to Scandinavian origin to see one of my own ancestors in their own element doing some badass shit, ideally some viking shit!


If there was one celebrity you’d like to punch in the face, who would it be?


Chris Brown.


If you had to obtain $1m illegally, how would you do it?


Sell my anal virginity. Wait not sure if anyone would pay for that. I’d kidnap Ryan Seacrest and sell his! Oh wait, he’s probably not an anal virgin. Shit. Next question…


Which long lost childhood object would you most like to find?


I think it’d be amazing to have every favorite shirt you’ve ever had throughout the different times in your life.  Just to look at them all.


What age do people become “old”, what’s the secret to staying young?


When they stop having sex.


What’s your favorite quotation?


“Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd” by my best friend Phil.


If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, would you be open to it?


I would if they had FIRST read the Claude Hopkins books, then visited and read every piece of marketing info on it. Those are the 2 best resources for up and coming writers so unless someone does that they probably aren’t serious about it.


My company is also looking for new writers right now. You are required to work in our LA office, as we feel it’s the best environment to learn. After you prove yourself we are open to you working remotely, but we don’t start anyone remotely… we have to see that they want it. And you can’t beat being surrounded by he team of world-class marketers we’ve assembled. Our new writers get good FAST… my favorite part of my job right now is working with them to improve their skills.


Do you currently do consulting for other businesses?


I consult for non-competitive businesses at the rate of $1000/hr, previous to which I go over all of your marketing materials so the entire 60 minutes is value. I don’t really take on outside copywriting projects anymore.


If you enjoyed this post and think you might know someone else that might be interested in reading, I’d love it if you’d share this with them.




Sprigley Allan - Fantastic article, I especially enjoyed how you threw the fun questions in there!August 8, 2013 – 4:36 pm

Josef Klus - Thanks for pointing me to Golden Hippo and your mentors.August 1, 2013 – 12:33 pm

Ronnie - Craig and I met through BRAD HOSS. At the time, I was trying to get a better look into a Lifestyle for Nightlife evolving the Day Trip. I found myself on a different path after that and became a Social Media Marketing Manager. Now I’m a performer evolving in the world of Strip Tease known as Burlesque. But I have always been a personal writer for the witness of my own vision. After I started performing, I realized how much now I wanted to start play writing for scripts and character build. But sometimes we come to dead ends, other times we find a fork in the road, and think, man! I really could use a spoon right now. But there is no spoon. Yet, we still need chopsticks because they are better for your teeth. Don’t eat chinese food with silverware. Save the silverware for rainy days because you never know when you just might need a butter knife, to smoothen things over where Life is. But a Dream was the answer that already told you that. Thank You Craig For Being an INFLUENCE of INSPIRATION to Me. – Ronnie.March 28, 2013 – 11:57 am

Anna - I want to be Craig Clemons AND Tim King when I grow up! You guys are awesome!March 28, 2013 – 9:13 am

Chrs Mixson - Nice article. I want in.March 18, 2013 – 3:51 am

Jacqui - What age do people become “old”:
When they stop having sex.

Brilliant.March 15, 2013 – 1:42 pm

Phil Lambert - “Shitweasel”, lol. Good read.March 15, 2013 – 12:02 pm

30 Dates in 30 Days with Details Matter App

If you’re a long time reader of my blog, you know how much I love originality.

And out of all the travels I’ve been on, all the things I’ve seen, and all the people I’ve met – the most memorable experiences I’ve had have been the road less traveled, the rare and most surreal sights, and the people who march to the beat of their own drum.

When I came across the Details Matter App, I immediately fell in love with it. I love the mindset behind it, and I thoroughly believe that it makes a genuine attempt of helping people get more out of life. And on top of that, it makes it all so much easier.

And I can’t be more thrilled to help collaborate with such an awesome concept.

So starting March 20th, I’ll be doing the best of my abilities to spread the word to as many people as possible. I’ll be going on 30 dates – with 30 girls – in 30 days straight.

I know. It’s crazy. And impractical. But you know what? A lot of the best adventures I’ve had have been crazy and impractical – and I’m thinking this next month will be one hell of a time!

So here are the “details” in case you’d like to get involved, or maybe just like to follow along:

1. I’ll be going on a different date each day, with a different girl each time. The dates will include activities in or around San Diego that range from about $0 (for some great first date ideas) to upwards of the $300 range towards the end (for more anniversary ideas).

2. I’ll be posting photos of the dates (not necessarily their faces or the two of us, but imagery that tells the story) and you can follow along on the Details Matter Instagram account. Search “@details_matter_app”

3. I’ll also be talking about the date each day on the details matter blog – highlighting the experience in terms of what kind of activity it was, the associated cost, and my opinion on how much potential the girl has for success in life. Just kidding! (The personal details of the date – IE what we talked about, if I was attracted to her or not, etc – aren’t the main focus, but rather talking about how others can go out and make these kind of experiences happen for themselves. If anything, I’m betting the girls that will be up for these adventures will be positive and fun, and those kind of characteristics I always love to talk about. Like I mentioned in the video, I’m not looking for love – I’m not looking to get laid – but rather just share some awesome adventures with some great girls)

4. If you feel like you’d be a good fit and want to join along the experience, I’d love it if you would email me at If you don’t live in San Diego or have some friends that you think might be interested, I’d love it if you would share this post on facebook or twitter.

I’m excited for what’s to come – and I can’t wait to share all the fun with you!

Jeff Werner - Hey Tim really enjoyed reading about your 30 dates in 30 days. Came across your article in the San Diego Downtown news and immediately went to your blog to read more.

You have inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and be more creative in planing my weekend adventures and trying something new and exiting, I now have to get my wife to read your blog and hopefully she will get inspired also.

I’m curious to know if you connected with any of your dates and are still dating any of them??April 29, 2013 – 12:40 pm

Lisa - My project is “30by30: My quest to go on 30 dates by the time I turn 30 years old” – maybe our projects can hang out! Either way, hope you have as much fun on your journey as I’ve been having on mine. Glad there are other people living large out there!March 24, 2013 – 10:55 pm

Rachel - Reminds me of “The Year of Yes” (this book: GOOD LUCK! :)March 13, 2013 – 5:28 am

Shooting Star Silhouettes Workshop at WPPI

***02-24-14 edit***

So I’ll be honest – the main reason I decided to offer this workshop during WPPI is to raise enough money to pay for a magician to perform at a party.

If I get 5 people, we can buy 1 hour of magic.

Please help the cause and support this rare art. Because really, if you don’t love magic, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore.



Not to be biased, but one of my favorite wedding photos that I’ve taken was the one you see at the bottom of this post.

It ALSO happens to have earned me a lot of attention on social media, a strong relationship with the venue I shot it at, and of course – it’s one of the main images my prospective clients always mention when meeting up at a consult.

I love doing this kind of photography, and I feel it stands out as some of the most compelling styles of imagery you can achieve with your work.

So I’ve decided to entertain the idea of holding a mini-workshop for up to 5 individuals while at WPPI this year.  The conference is timed to be perfectly set for optimal conditions for this kind of photo (new moon) – and the desert outside of Las Vegas will provide for some pretty clear skies.  I think it’s important to have a small group in order to ensure that everyone gets the individual attention they deserve – and it also helps a lot with scheduling.  For now, I’m thinking either Sunday (the 2nd) or Monday (the 3rd) – whichever works best for the group will dictate it.  We’ll head out around 8-9 PM.


The cost would be $300 per person, and here’s what that would cover:

-Transportation to & from the location in the desert during the night of the shoot

-Model male and female provided to create silhouette & various posing options

-Off-camera lighting and tripods provided so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own or having to rent

-Explanation of technique and strategy to achieve this shots – and the conditions that affect how good the shot might be (moon, location, etc) so you’ll know how to prepare yourself in the future

-You’ll leave with a badass shot you can put smack-dab on the front of your portfolio, and if the conditions don’t allow us (clouds, weather)- you’ll get your money back.  I want you to win, and I’m on your team.   If you lose, I lose.  We’re in this together.

I feel strongly about the value in this kind of shot – and I don’t want you walking away feeling like you wasted your time/money on this conference.  I have no doubt in my mind that if for nothing else – this little workshop will give you a huge boost in marketing and helping your portfolio.

If you’re interested – please get in touch by sending an email to




And as always – if you know someone who might be interested in this post – I’d love it if you’d “share” this with them.




Kate - Aghhhh not going to WPPI this year but I agree; have one in a San Diego desert soon please!!! :)February 24, 2014 – 9:48 am

Cindy - dang i totally missed out! Not that I was going to go to WPPI….if you have a workshop like this at at dessert in San Diego, I’ll sign up!March 20, 2013 – 12:30 pm

Case of the Fridays – Trumpet Player Rico DeLargo

Today I’ve chosen Rico DeLargo, an exotic trumpet player based out of San Diego for this week’s installment of “Case of the Fridays.”  He headlines events and venues all over the states, and travels more frequently than I do.  Being an independent musician that can obtain that level of demand is a tough thing to do – and his work has caught my eye (and ear) for awhile now.

Rico DeLargo at Fluxx


I specifically chose Rico because of how he demonstrates passion for his work.  When he talks about his music and his motivation for doing so, it really shows through.  He also makes an effort to reach out and inspire others in local high schools, and offer bits of inspiration to his followers online.  He also appears to lead a very glamorous and luxurious lifestyle – however I think you’ll find his insight on those issues pretty interesting!

Here’s a photo of us while doing the interview.  We met at my favorite mexican restaurant, Oscars in north Pacific Beach.

Hope you enjoy the interview – and if you know someone who might be interested in Rico’s story – I’d love it if you shared it with them!


Rico DeLargo Musician


What is your name/age?


Rico DeLargo 32 Years Young


What is your occupation?


Musician – Vibe Elevator


Where did you grow up?


Gloucester, VA.  It was awesome.  It was a small town in the countryside with horses in the backyard – like a real country boy.


How long have you been doing what you currently do?


5 years


Did you have a 9-5 job before that?


I did!  It was more like 9-9.  I was directory of entertainment for a lifestyle marketing firm.


How did you become involved in the work that you currently do?


Well, I’ve been perf in nightclubs since I was 16 & 17 years old – now I’m playing alongside DJ’s instead of other musicians.  I started doing that when I was on south beach.  Some Brazilians were throwing some parties and invited me to bring my horn, it was a hit and that’s where it really got ahold.


How much longer do you envision yourself working in the field that you’re in?


1 year, maybe 2.  I love to inspire and motivate people – I feel whatever comes next will involve a great deal of that.  I want to enhance people’s lives in some way.  Vibe elevation in an entirely different spectrum.


What level of schooling have you completed?




What is it that you love about your work?


The opportunity to win people over.  What I do is really different and unique.  When I first pull my horn out, people are anticipating something to happen, but they don’t know what.  Winning them over and elevating their vibe with the sound coming from my mind and my heart – truly rewarding.


What is your least favorite thing about your work?


The travel.  Late nights and early flights.  Flying hungover, to put it more bluntly.


Is there anything you miss about life back home?


The tempo.  It’s a slower pace, and I live life in the fast lane right now.  When I go home and get to just go back to that lower gear and unwind


What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?


I have a lot of control over my schedule – it has a lot of flexibility.  Keeping in touch with friends in different cities and having actual face time with them is pretty sweet.


What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?


Barely see your family.  Inconsistent sleep.  Insomnia.  I had insomnia for a year.  A lot of shallow people in the industry I work in.


How different is the dating scene for you?  Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?


My schedule is not very conducive for nurturing a relationship.  It’s something I’ll want down the line – more time with someone special.  (This girl is special to me – she’s ions above any other woman in my life.)  I just need more time – I’m never home.  How do you grow a relationship when you’re never around?  It’s like trying to keep a plant without watering it.


Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?  Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?


Up until now, paycheck to paycheck was fine.  Now, as I’m getting older – I’m understanding the value of having that little bit tucked away.

Before, it was all about being in the moment – that was all that mattered.  If I could go back and change my approach earlier, I would have.  Take 10% of everything and just put it away.  Not touch it.


How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?


Laying at the beach everyday.  Living an extremely healthy lifestyle.  Being in really great shape, and continuing to help others in some way.  Giving back to the community.  Still trying to inspire young people in a way.


Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?


My new dream is to have a family.  I’m learning that my lifestyle isn’t really that condusive to nurturing and sustaining a family the way I would want to.  That’s one of the main reasons I’m looking to change my career within the next 2 years.  I want to take the proper footsteps to allow for a family.  I’d consider a 9-5, but after having my own business for 5 years – I’m not sure that I can work for someone else.  But if I had to in oreder to support my family, I’d do anything.  I’d work at 7-11 if it meant putting food on the table for my family.


What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?


Helping others, I think giving is the best way of learning when it comes to that kind of “big picture” and what’s meant to be spirituality.  I think the key is to give whole heartedly and genuinely.  How can I give more?  How can I give more of myself, my knowledge, and a helping hand to other people?  Those are the things I think about.

Learning more about myself.  Evolving as a man.  That’s my priority.  I think about that everyday.  How can I evolve as a man and grow?


If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?


Make networking your number 1 priority.  Building and utilizing a network is essential to almost any career or job.  And obtaining a job!


If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?


Confidence.  That’s the biggest thing.  Being comfortable in any situation.


Who inspires you?


My parents.  Nature.  Fuck, that sounds so hippy but it’s true.  The things around me – you know – my surroundings.  And music.  Definitely music.


What do you think of authority?


There were a few instances in my life growing up where I had some trouble with authority.  I tend to be a lone wolf and tend to make my own rules.  That’s why I have an entrepreneurial spirit – that’s where it comes from.  There’s no doubt in my mind that authority figues have tought me a tremendous amount and mentored me to be the person I am today.  As I grew older – I think I realized the value of those above me.  I listended more, and truly – genuinely listened.  Take in what they were saying so I could use it to my advantage.


What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?


I had detention one time in my whole school career, and it was for talking to girls in class.  I was always very social.






What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?


A baseball player


What are some of your favorite sounds?


Birds – when I’m home in Virginia.  I love thunderstorms too.


What’s your favorite curse word?


Probably fuck, hahaha.


What’s your favorite memory from your past?


I definitely had the most beautiful childhood anyone could ever ask for.  Riding horses and playing baseball, and of course playing music.  Great memories laying on the beach in Miami with my friends.  Great memories of getting home when the sun was coming up in LV.


If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?


I’d be a cheetah.  It’s really sexy.  And, it’s fast, but it’s also gentle.


What are some of your favorite smells?


The smell of smoke from a chimney  – reminds me of my childhood.  The street after the rain.  The ocean.


If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?


Oh, I would be Tony from Saturday night fever.  Of course.


If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?


Probably the roman empire when Marcus Airelis was in power.


If there was one celebrity you’d like to punch in the face, who would it be?


I really can’t stand that guy from Magic Mike – what’s his name?

“Channing Tatum” the girl sitting next to us says.  Or maybe that girl from the latest batman.


If you had to obtain $1m illegally, how would you do it?


Something kind of robin hood esc.  Maybe extort a millionaire


Which long lost childhood object would you most like to find?


My big wheel.


What age do people become “old”, what’s the secret to staying young?


100.  Ticket to staying young is juicing.  And avoiding meat.


What’s your favorite quotation?


Believe and it will be.  I’m pretty sure I made it up.


If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?


The contact page at


On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to get back to them?