An HBS student in Afghanistan

Daniel is an HBS student currently deployed in Afghanistan. Prior to HBS, he worked in finance but enlisted in the Marines Reserves as an infantryman. During his first year at HBS, he received his first deployment order, and Daniel is currently serving a 12 month activation cycle. He has had a tremendous amount of support from the school, including personally from the Dean, and will return to complete his MBA after his one year activation. HBS has historically been extremely supporting of its military students, and the administration worked with Daniel's situation to make sure he received full credit for the first year of his MBA. Everyone is looking forward to his return.

Recently I got an update from him, and he agreed to share some of his story online at my request. They are thoughts that certainly many soldiers and Marines have had at one point or another. The following is an excerpt from his writings in Afghanistan:

"Afghanistan, Helmand Province in particular, is the most different placeI've ever been in my life. To begin with, everything is the coyote-tan color ofdirt. Not surprising, given that the dirt here is a moon-dust-like powderyconsistency that begins to puff up and out before my boots even touch theground. Everywhere I look, all I see is the tan of the dirt and everything itcovers: the ground, mud compounds, roads, rocks, our cammies, hesco barriers,trucks, even the air. The landscape is absolutely barren - just sand and rocksas far as the horizon in every direction. The fact that people live here at theprecipice of non-existence is a testament to their tenacity. The dry air andhot sand conspire to literally suck the life out of anything exposed to theelements (and, let's face it, everything out here is exposed to the elements).Even the mud-walled compounds that they build straight out of the dirt aroundthem look like a day of solid rain would extinguish all signs that anybody everexisted here. And that makes it all the more amusing to me that at least threeworld powers have fought over ownership of this land in the last 100 years. Theonly explanation I can think of is that those wars were initiated whilestanding in front of a map of the world, drawing lines from here to there. It'simpossible to imagine someone with both feet on the ground staring at the dustyexpanse of nothingness and deciding to throw thousands of young lives at"owning" what they saw. Owning the desert seems like an almost purelytheoretical concept tantamount to owning a cubic foot of air - boundaries areinvisible, there's basically nothing in it, and you can't do much with it. Butfrom what we got as far as Afghan history classes goes, lines were drawn in thesky and the locals must have felt like aliens arrived in flying saucers.

The most surprising thing here has been the children. In an environment sodevoid of stimuli, the kids are some of the most engaging, dynamic bunch I'veever seen. They run up to you on patrols and speak English! Unfortunately, it'sclear that their English was learned from Marines (Helmand province being ourmain area of operations), which ranks slightly higher than learning English injail, I suppose. But they absolutely exude a level of intelligence that isshocking to most of our prejudiced expectations. One little kid came up to usand said, in English, "Today you have six trucks! More trucks today. Youare new!". Definitely not one that you want to turn down when asked for"biscuit" and "juice" in case the Taliban also has biscuitsand juice to spare. Oddly, you only see kids and old people, nothing inbetween. Something definitely happens between childhood and old age, though,because the older people are the most reserved, quiet people I have seen.Despite their quietness, I don't imagine any of that intelligence and sharpnessof mind goes away.

In general, the dissonance between life back home and life over here continuesto demonstrate the absurdity of the universe, which (ironically) helps keepthings light and my spirits up. Despite feeling a bit far from home, I'm pumpedto finally be in Afghanistan doing what I joined the Marines to do."

Job well done Daniel. We are proud of you.

Fearless Photographer: Portraits

From time to time a book comes out that challenges you to think differently about your portrait photography. To not just think outside the box (which is so cliche), but to really engage your subjects, and to get them to open up, be more of themselves that you're used to seeing (or they're used to showing), and really create some amazing portraiture. Fearless Photographer: Portraits - by Charlotte Richardson* is just such a book. I've added it to my recommended reading list, and encourage you to buy it and check it out.

Charlotte rarely uses Photoshop to composite/fabricate images (and discloses completely whatever may have been done in Photoshop) throughout the book. So, for example, when she places her subjects in a heart-shaped ring of fire - they really are surrounded by fire, not dropped in in post-production. As a photographer for over 20 years, she first trained to "get it right on film", so concepts like "we'll fix it in post-production" are approaches she abhors. Wherever possible, she strives to realize a vision in-camera, not as pieces composed after the fact. The book is a fun and easy read, with practical advice and Charlotte is never afraid to tell you her mistakes as well.

The book, in the end, isn't just a how-to, but also gives you inspiration and encouragement to really engage your subjects, and, yes, be fearless.

Here's an overview of the book and one of the behind-the-scenes videos (below), and after the jump are seven more videos showing behind-the-scenes looks at several chapters of the book.

Fearless Photographer Portaits - Behind the Scenes - Hearts on Fire: Ray and Angel

Fearless Photographer Portraits - Overview

(Continued after the Jump)

Fearless Photographer Portraits: Behind the Scenes - Chloe Alyce and Lucky

Fearless Photographer Portraits: Behind the Scenes - Preteens: Olivia and the Beach

Fearless Photographer Portraits: Behind the Scenes - Soccer Stars

Fearless Photographer Portraits: Behind the Scenes - Hunter: Rock Star (and cover subject)

Fearless Photographer Portraits: Behind the Scenes - Blaine: A Man with a Message

Fearless Photographer Portraits: Behind the Scenes - Lyndi and Clyde: Beauty Tames a Ton (Literally)

Fearless Photographer Portraits: Behind the Scenes - Agent C's Hot Wheels

* Charlotte is my better half, and I served as a humble assistant to bring her visions (and those of her subjects) to reality. She also cornered me into appearing a few times in the book.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

UPDATE: US Presswire & Gannett

Despite the deafening silence surrounding Gannett (NYSE: GCI) acquiring US Presswire officially from Gannett, other tidbits of information are coming through the grapevine, and other interesting places.

One such interesting insight comes from Photographer Thomas Shea, who's shot for USPW for some time. Shea posted this on his Facebook account:

As such, it seems that Gannett is making good on all the back debt that US Presswire photographers are owed. This is often the case when a company acquires another company - they not only get all the assets of that company, but also assume all the debt. Also what happens in many cases, is, if say, a company is valued at say $1,000,000, but the company also has $500,000 in debt, that debt is deducted from the valuation and while the purchase price/valuation is $1M, the actual payout to the company's owners is the net amount. While it is unclear if this happened in the Gannett USPW deal, it often does happen.

(Continued after the Jump)

For photographers looking at the potential detrimental effects on their bottom line, the website (here) shows a $375/$400 range of pay for an assignment. That's an incredible rate in comparison to the $100/$125 payments that Gannett is making to USPW photographers under the new deal.

As late as Sunday September 14, USPW Holdings COO Bob Rosato, is still working for Sports Illustrated, having been on the sidelines of the Ravens game and producing an SI regional cover, here. It may be that Rosato is playing out the end of a deal with SI as the Gannett arrangement ramps up, or there may be some other arrangement in place.

Also of interest, is that apparently Getty Images and US Presswire have exclusive licensing deals with college schools, whereby here, one photographer quotes the Michigan Wolverines as saying:
"The school also does not credential photography services beyond Getty Images and US Presswire, which have licensing relationships with the school, according to Ablauf."

Lastly, it seems that US Presswire (a la Gannett) is now covering high school sports - here. In the past (4 other times) USPW has covered a high school game, it was because 1. Ashton Kutcher was a coach; 2. Joe Montana's son was QB; 3.) Matt Barkey (went to play at USC). The only other thing about this game was it featured two USA Today top-5 teams. It could be that this is a new order, "on high", from Gannett.

It looks like photographers who used to earn $375/$400 won't be needed with the $100 photographer in abundance from the ranks of the USPW folks. This is yet one more example of how what you do not only affects others, but yourself, if, say, you were shooting for Gannett when they called, and USPW in the meantime - you contributed to your own cost-slashing.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

How to Destroy Your Customer Base and Investor Confidence

Netflix used to have a charmed life.

This year, however, poorly thought out strategy and lurching decisions are stripping away many of its advantages and making it vulnerable to competitors.

Established in 1997, its founders saw opportunities in creating an Internet-based DVD-by-mail distribution system. It was designed to be a competitor to physical video stores, making it more attractive by offering a larger selection and using a unique IT driven distribution system that combined distribution centers across the country to serve customers within 24 hours at highly attractive prices.

The DVD-by-mail service became a hit, ultimately devastating the market of physical stores such as Blockbuster. By 2007 it had delivered more than 1 billion DVDs to customers. That same year it launched on-demand video streaming service so customers could also select a video and stream it to a PC (and later other platforms) for immediate viewing. The company allowed viewers a highly popular choice of physical DVDs or streamed video for the same price.

Effective marketing and the enviable distribution system led the company to became the largest video subscription service in the U.S., with 24 million customers

Despite--and because of the investments required for--its growth, the company was losing money on its $10 per month price for the joint service, so it suddenly increased it price to $16 dollars (a 60% increase) in July. That significant price change and the poor way it was introduced to customers—especially in the midst of poor economic times, angered customers and created price resistance that led a least a half million to drop the service.

Then, in September, the firm announced it would spin off its DVD-by-mail service and rebrand it Qwickster, leaving Netflix with the digital streaming business. Customers were furious to learn they would now have to pay separately for both services. By downplaying its DVD-by-mail business, the company hopes to reduce distirbution costs and its costs for content by moving content from a per rental basis to per subscriber basis that is more beneficial for the firm.

Netflix's decisions were not made with a customer focus, but a focus on stemming losses that worried some investors. That strategy is dubious, however, and share prices have fallen from nearly $300 per share in mid-summer to $140 per share.

The lurching changes have also made the company’s position seem vulnerable, leading to new competitors to enter the market. Dish Network, which bought Blockbuster out of bankruptcy, is now using it to introduce a competing DVD-by-mail and digital delivery services at competitive prices and Hula and Amazon are reportedly looking a ways to exploit consumer dissatisfaction.

The entire episode is a classic example of why companies should never take customers for granted and why company decisions need to be driven by creating--rather than subtracting--value for consumers.

Import Export Business News Updates

Import Export Business News Updates

1) There is a search box in the upper left side of this blog that will assist you in searching throughout this blog and it's many years worth of entries.

2) There are over 5 1/2 years of posts within this blog, there is a search box to search box located in the upper left side of the blog that you may use to search for specific words or phrases or or you are encouraged to use the archive date links located on the lower right side of the navigation bar - they are listed by Month/Year.


If you purchased The Import-Export Business Training Toolkit or The Computer User's Guide to Running Your Own Importing Company training courses within the last year (September 2010 to present) you are encouraged to visit the membership site and download the updated version of the Importer's eBay and Mail Order Handbook, which is included with The Import-Export Toolkit and The Computer User's Guide to Running Your Own Importing Company. All the links have been updated and amended, changes have been addressed and some new success stories have been added.

The new guide is now available for download at the to clients who have ordered either The Import-Export Toolkit or The Computer User's Guide to Running Your Own Importing Company. Simply login at Trade Tools client site and scroll down to "Importer's Mail Order Handbook" to read or download the new book. It's usually found at the very bottom of the page.

This is a free update for current clients who purchased either of the above mentioned training programs since September 2010. We hope you find the updated information useful.


Web Wholesaler is the leading B2B publication for e-Tailers, Dropshippers, Online Marketplace Sellers, Store Owners/Buyers and Wholesalers and best of all, it is currently accepting NEW FREE subscribers from the USA ONLY.

Web Wholesaler offers the latest in new products and merchandise sources, ideas and statistics on what is selling online NOW, as well as up to the minute news and information on industry trends, e-business growth and management strategies, and methods for increasing your revenues.

Located in the USA? Then sign up for your FREE Web Wholesaler subscription today!


Global Sources, the world leader in product sourcing trade shows, is organizing a number of China Sourcing Fairs in Hong Kong, from 20-23 October, 2011 (
). There will be over 2,300 booths for the 6 shows held concurrently: China Sourcing Fairs: Baby & Children's Products, Home Products, Gifts & Premiums, Medical & Health Products, Christmas & Seasonal Products and India Sourcing Fair: Home Products. The trade shows are a great way to meet 'real' professional suppliers face-to-face and see the products before you place an order.

While you are there, be sure to attend the conferences (
), which are co-located with the China Sourcing Fairs! These conferences are free, first-come-first-served and highly popular (often with standing room only). Learn China sourcing strategies straight from industry professionals, plus be updated on the latest trends in your industry!

You can register for the fairs at


Last, but certainly not least, we finally got around to adding contact links on this and the Importers Exporters trade leads blog - if you need or want to contact us about anything, please feel free to use the Contact Us link on the right side or click on the small graphic with the operator - include details of what you are inquiring about - I will not call someone who does not tell me what they are inquiring about - sorry, too many time wasters and flakes out there in the wide, so again, unless you tell me what it is you are asking about, don't expect me to call you.

Until next time.

Ron Coble

US Presswire Confirmed Sold to Gannett, Name Change

According to the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations, US Presswire's mailing address has changed to that of Gannett (NYSE: GCI) headquarters in McLean, VA on September 7, 2011:
Mailing Address
Changed 09/07/2011
Also changed, US Presswire is now legally known as USPW Media Holdings, LLC, according to the same filing.

What remains to be known is what was paid for US Presswire. Likely Gannett will have to disclose this figure sooner rather than later, as it is a publicly traded company.

Over on the website (here), photographer Darren Carroll makes a remarkable point about all the photographers who were working for free for US Presswire:
"IF all of those photographers had insisted on getting paid a decent rate to cover those 5,300 games, Presswire would never have been in a financial position to offer such a bargain-basement deal for its pictures."
Carroll went on to do the math and illustrate the fact that these photographers, working for free, subsidized the build-up and sale of US Presswire:
"5,300 games (U.S. Presswire's number, from its own press release). For argument's sake, let's be conservative and call a "decent" rate $500 per game (commensurate with the standard S.I. day rate). If every shooter who "worked" for U.S. Presswire would have insisted on being paid that amount, that would be a $2,650,000 hole (not counting other overhead) that US Presswire would have had to climb out of just to be profitable. And the only place the company could have made that back was by charging more for its sales and licensing. Basically, then as Allen Murabayashi alluded to in an earlier post, all of the photographers who agreed to work for free just subsidized U.S. Presswire over TWO AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS to help conduct its operations in 2010."
I can't think of a more solid example of how working for free is detrimental to all photographers and benefits corporate owners.

(Continued after the Jump)

Here is the corporate filing data from the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations website:

You can view the listing here.


Worth Reading:

US Presswire, Message Thread 1-51 on
US Presswire, Message Thread 52-103 on
US Presswire, Message Thread 104- on


Gannett Acquires US Presswire, 9/7/2011

One Gannett Photographers take on the US Presswire Acquisition, 9/12/2011

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

One Gannett Photographers take on the US Presswire Acquisition

The Gannett (NYSE: GCI) acquisition is sure to have an adverse impact on Gannett staff photographers. To be expected will be a reduction in the Gannett organization sending it's staff photographers to games when there are 2-3 photographers already there shooting the event for a fraction of the cost they previously had for a freelancer, let alone a staffer.

One well known sports photographer (non-Gannett) sent along the following figures from the Maryland State Personnel Management System for direct an indirect costs for a $49k salaried employees, which is as follows:

Salary* $49,019
Social Security $3,979
Health Insurance** $8,528
Pension Retirement $4,541
Deferred Compensation Match $0
Workers Compensation $667
Unemployment Insurance $52
Personal Leave $1,197
Holiday $2,394
Annual Leave $2,993
Sick Leave $998

This assumes that a Gannett photographer earns $49k, and I believe their number to be significantly higher. Yet, let's consider this as a solid example on the low-side. This does not, of course, include the costs for transportation, photo equipment, and a laptop. You can reasonably expect that figure to add $6k a year, minimum, to the indirect cost of a staff photographer. So, with a salary of $49, added direct and indirect costs of $25k, and the estimated additional $6k gear allowance, you're looking at $80k a year to carry one staff photographer. Not to mention travel assignments where air/hotel/car rental/meals/etc are an added cost. Why pay an annualized cost when you need only pay the sports photographers on the days you need them, and they're local? As such, Gannett photographers who have spent most of their days covering sports should consider their days numbered, and they have much to be concerned about.

We heard from one photographer, who shared his concern as a comment on the original story we broke. He wrote:
(Continued after the Jump)

I'm a photographer at a Gannett paper who was instructed not to talk about the Presswire deal. We are as uncertain of the future and what this deal means as the US Presswire photographers probably are.

Does this mean Gannett will stop using AP & Getty and rely exclusively on Presswire for wire sports? And use it to renegotiate lower rates? Does it mean Gannett papers will no longer contribute sports photos to the AP wire and now market them through Presswire, competing with the Presswire photographers?

Are Gannett's motives even darker? Does it mean that Gannett papers will no longer staff NFL/MLB/NHL/NBA and the like instead relying on Presswire?

Let's face it, it's a lot cheaper to send one or two US Presswire photographers to a NFL game for a flat $100 each than two staffers who in addition to their salaries get health insurance, expenses and mileage etc. By the time you stretch the math out you could probably send three Presswire people for what one staffer would cost.

Gannett's motive could be even more nefarious. Once the Presswire deal is concluded, Gannett will have a large roster of reliable freelancers at its disposal. Will they start to use them to replace staffers. If they will take $100 to work a football game maybe they'll take $25 to do a community back to school assignment? Again, much cheaper than sending a staffer.

It's interesting that neither Gannett nor Presswire have made any announcements about this yet. Rumor has it that a number of Gannett people are traveling to Virginia next week to hear about the deal and what it means. I guess we'll have to wait till then to find out what's in store. "
This staffer has made a number of astute observations, and is rightly concerned. This will have an adverse impact on every staff photographer, including those at the other wire services. With Gannett no longer needing AP/Getty for the sports package, there will be fewer photographers assigned to those games, and Reuters/AFP will also possibly see a similar impact.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Announcing the New Business Plan Mentorship Program

Many military personnel are well suited to become entrepreneurs, but often don't know where to begin or are working in isolation. MilitaryToBusiness would like to support aspiring military entrepreneurs, and has formed the MtB Business Plan Mentorship Program to do so.

Every individual or team that submits their business plan executive summary will receive expert start-up advice to assess the feasibility of the plan, recommendations for next steps, and if appropriate, introductions to the venture capital community.

The best business plans will also receive formal recognition, which might help in your fundraising or at the very least, with business school applications if you still plan on applying. In summary, this mentorship program provides you the following:
  • Feedback and advice on your business idea
  • If appropriate, introductions to the venture capital or appropriate industry community in order to help take your idea to the next level
  • Awards and recognition for the best plans, which will help differentiate you in business school applications should you still decide to apply to b-school. 
To find out more, visit the program's page here.

The ACLU and Photographers Rights

The American Civil Liberties Union has come out with a remarkable - and timely - resource in their piece "You Have Every Right to Photograph That Cop" (ACLU website - 9/7/11). Ten years ago tomorrow, my ability to cover the attack at the Pentagon was cut short by an overzealous FBI agent despite my having been in the same location for over 5 hours and behind a fence line. That had not been my first experience with overzealous police or federal authorities - in this case one who refused to provide his name and only flashed his badge - and it also has not been my last.

At right is a Supreme Court police officer approaching me to admonish me that cannot be where I am - the public front steps of the US Supreme Court - to take photographs - this, before 9/11, as if that's actually a valid excuse. It is not.
(Continued after the Jump)

Countless times I have been directed (or watched others directed) by overzealous authorities with a badge (and sometimes a gun) to leave an area because we were press, while the general public was allowed to wander aimlessly in the area - or even shoot pictures with a point-and-shoot - and threatened with arrest if the directions were not heeded. This is, and has always been, unacceptable. Yet, I take high offense when the blanket excuse is " can't do that/be here because of national security..." .

The ACLU cites law enforcement programs that "suggest that photography is a 'precursor behavior' to terrorism, and direct the police to react accordingly." So is driving a car to your intended destination to commit terrorism, and feeding yourself during the process. Ludicrous, I know. Yet, it's the comparable. Further, anyone who really wants to take a photo can do so surreptitiously.

As someone who has worn a press credential for over 20 years, and who served two terms as the President of the White House News Photographers Association, I have seen too many egregious encroachments on the tenets of the First Amendment, and it's nice to see the ACLU taking a stand on this issue.

Be sure to read, print, and carry a copy of the ACLU's "Know Your Rights: Photographers" guide to "Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties."

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Gannett Acquires US Presswire

According to sources familiar with the deal, US Presswire has been acquired by Gannett (NYSE: GCI). In a conference call last night amongst contributors and US Presswire management, the details of their new deal were discussed.

Among the details, US Presswire photographers, who previously shot on spec and had to cover all their own expenses, now would be compensated, albeit at a nominal amount. According to sources, US Presswire's Bob Rosato, who is set to stay on as the Chief Operating Officer of US Presswire under the new Gannett deal, told photographers that now, with an "assignment fee" of $100, which must include all expenses, that all the photographers are getting their expenses paid. This lead to some grumbling amongst conference call participants who concluded that some photographers have been getting expenses paid, while others have not. Under the terms of the deal, the $100 assignment fee will apply for the first year, with $125 being the assignment fee paid in the second year.

(Continued after the Jump)

Further details of how revenues would be divided came to light during the conference call. Images that were previously a part of a subscription arrangement, similar to the one that USA Today was paying $600 for, which ultimately became a $1000 a month deal when they added and Sports Weekly, for with an "all you can eat" stream of images, would not earn those on assignment any additional fees, whereas it previously did, albeit at a nominal $5 or so per image, according to one source who's often been paid these amounts. Further, if USPW has a photographer on assignment at a game, and another USPW photographer requests a credential to cover the game, any images that the requesting "not on assignment" photographer submits will not generate any income from the subscription feeds, however any a la carte sales would remain paid at regular rates.

There are no planned departures, with all senior management reportedly staying on. A new contract that all contributors will be required to sign is in the works, and the timetable for the formal takeover, while happening soon, has not been announced with an exact date.

With Gannett re-launching their Sports Network brand (as noted here), it seems this is among the faster ways that Gannett can get a network of photographers rapidly, although it remains unknown if all of the USPW content will be used without charge within the Gannett family of properties (USA Today,, Sports Weekly, all of the Gannett newspapers, etc) or will there be some compensation.

Rumors abounded several years ago that Getty Images, seeing US Presswire as a thorn in their side more than a valuable property to acquire, offered an excessive amount of money to USPW owners - in the realm of $4m - $5m - which they turned down. Rosato, staying on as the COO, also is reported to have resigned his position as a photographer with Sports Illustrated, supposedly because of conflict of interest concerns if he were to stay on.

Photo Business News has written several articles about USPW in the past, and taken a critical look at how photographers have frequently gotten poor deals and the short end of the stick. With this new deal, management will likely have little room to offer as an excuse that they don't have any money to pay photographers, as they have in the past.

We've made outreach to Gannett throughout the day, and the response we received, was no comment.


US Presswire "Steps In It" With MLB and Getty Images

US Presswire - Introduction
US Presswire - A Conflict of Interest
US Presswire - Friends Don't Screw Friends
US Presswire - Contract Analysis
US Presswire - The Client's Perspective
US Presswire - The Freelancers Perspective
US Presswire - Closing Thoughts

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.
Just a friendly reminder - 5 1/2 years of archived posts in this blog are shown in the lower right of the sidebar area (scroll down to see them) - These posts contain IMPORTANT information you need to know - after reading this post/page, go visit the archives, bookmark the blog so you may easily return as more valuable and important events occur - real world information and REAL experiences are posted here, ignore them at your own peril.

This post is another in response to a comment (and follow up comment to my reply) that was left on a previous post - here is the original comment --

Ron, thank you for the time you have put into making this awfully informative blog. It has been a huge help to me in my pursuit of becoming a successful export agent. I have done my due diligence and have identified the two productss I want to export and the companies I want to help export. I have also identified the foreign companies who I know need and want the products I want to export. My question to you is "how do I present myself to these foreign companies introducing my self and purpose"? The method of contact will be email initially. Any advice on what to include in my first few emails? Thank you again for all your hard work. You have helped so much.

Initially I sent an email to the publisher of the Import Export training course we offer for some feedback on how he would answer this inquiry, the following is 'part' of his reply, I am not going to publish part of the information because it contains information that is included in the course and it would not be equitable to those who have paid to get it then see it freely published in this blog -

"This is an involved question and neither of us knows all the particulars. Is he selling one-sies or container loads? Has he prepared a pro forma invoice? How is he handling servicing? Is it even an issue with his product? How is he going to get paid? Without knowing any more, I would suggest he contact (portion redacted to ensure Import Export paid training customer value). He might be well advised to get our trade training materials so he doesn't come across as an amateur who will be dismissed out of hand."

I initially posted a short reply to the original comment as follows:

I will try to post a longer reply as a regular post to the blog shortly so be on the lookout. In the interim I must tell you that you need to read thru "all" the posts of this blog and most of your questions will be answered...if you do not find the answer the first time, read through them again...the arhcived posts are available by Month/Year links on the right side navigation area at the main blog page which you may find by clicking on the title then scroll down and look to the right side for all the dates going back to 2006.

To which the following was posted by the original commenter:

thanks for replying, I had a feeling you might have already posted the answer on your blog. However, its rather difficult going 5 years of posts.

Is there any search functionality for the blog? That would save a ton of time and make finding pertinent information so much easier for your readers.

to which I replied:

there is a search box in the upper left corner of the blog as provided by blogspot the blog platform provider. Also, quite frankly, I personally feel going through all the posts, with the exception of the announcement types that have become outdated, ALL the information I have posted should be viewed as worthwhile taking the time to read and digest otherwise I would not have taken the time to post it.

I apologize for the length of this post lead in but in order to better understand my overall reply you need to read the exchange completely.

Working backwards in the comments, I wish to emphasize again that if I post something on this blog, "I" view it as being important to anyone who is seriously interested in succeeding in the import export business. Yes, there are announcements that are now outdated that you may easily skim past but the blog is filled with "REAL WORLD" experiences.

My experiences and those of others I have talked or corresponded with in some way over the past 23 1/2 years and much of what I have posted here is really to help people save themselves "from themselves". There have been many people who try to enter this business without having some formal training only to get burnt severely which translates into $$$$ lost. These experiences are posted in this blog and if you are serious about this business, you need to read them and learn from them.

Reading the posts in this blog or other posts found in other blogs or websites does not make you a ready for prime time trader.

This blog will help those who are not ready for prime time by learning that if the blog is too much to take the time to read then you really should not bother purchasing any paid training because you will not commit the time and effort necessary to read and understand in that sense this blog is a public service, freely given of my life's valuable time.

Yes, I am a grumpy old man "sometimes", and quite frankly I sometimes feel my time would be better spent taking a nap than posting new information here since it seems to be ignored by those who need it the most.

Getting back to one of the original commenters questions regarding making initial contact with a potential buyer....the question refers to using "email".

This part of the comment, in and of itself, proved to me that the commenter had not read through my blog completely because had they done so, they would have found that in several posts I recommend against using email as a means of making initial contact with a buyer. In those posts I give the best methods that will bring success and not have your email summarily deleted along with what the receiver thinks is junk email.

Additionally, I provide a set of agreements, letter formats and other valuable bonus resources for people who purchase either the exporters master training package or the import export business toolkit. These are resources that I have used and continue to use in my business and which I will not share freely with the general public but only those who are committed enough to read the blog in it's entirety and who then purchase one of the courses mentioned above.

So the bottom line reply to the commenters question - "Any advice on what to include in my first few emails?" is don't use email to try to make initial contact - read why in this blog - then read the rest of the blog, then if you are serious about moving forward, get the export training course or import export training course, study it, and only then move forward with making contact with potential buyers and sellers.

For anyone reading this blog....please take the time to read past and present posts...they were made to 'hopefully' help you from making the mistakes others have made, including me. The blog is also what works and what doesn't, it is about current and past events in international trade, it contains links to resources and much, much more.