Creative directors, art directors and editors want to do business with digital photographers whose Web sites are easy to browse and with photo content that is logically categorized. Too many photographers’ sites will combine images of completely unrelated genres—landscape and portrait, for example—which frustrates buyers and causes them to spend less time on those sites…and often never return. It’s better to market yourself as a specialist than a generalist, plus it’s rather easy to operate more than site, designating each for a specific digital photography genre.
Neither do photo buyers have the time and patience to wait for a Flash-based Web site to load. A Flash site may look great, but savvy pix purchasers will move to the next site before a Flash site is completely displayed.
Photo buyers are also perturbed when they must search a photographer’s site looking for contact information. The more the buyer has to hunt, the quicker they will seek another photographer who does a better job of placing contact information where it is clearly visible, and on most pages.
Survey data and anecdotal reports seem to support the idea that most photo buyers ask people they know for recommendations of photographers to contact. What is surprising is that the next most popular source among commercial pix purchasers to find a photographer is to look in their email accounts. As you might imagine, photo buyers receive many unsolicited email pitches from photographers. If they are willing to search their emails for a photo source, then your best strategy is to create/write a specific email to each art director, editor, etc. You want to convince them in as few words (and images) as possible that you shoot the photos (or already have the photos) that they need.
Photo buyers are also using social media in specific ways. Data from a recent survey paints an interesting picture: Approximately 9 percent of the surveyed art directors, editors, etc. search for a digital photographer via social media; however, almost 25 percent said that social media sites had been a source for a photographer they needed.
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A significant source of income for many semi-pro and professional digital photographers are commercial picture buyers, such as marketing firms, advertising agencies, design houses and publications. One of the “Golden Rules” of reaching any target audience is to communicate with its members through the communication channels or media they prefer. For example, teenagers don’t read newspapers, so that is not a wise medium to use to advertise a product or service teenagers are apt to purchase.
The same strategy applies to selling your photographs to commercial buyers. They like to receive marketing messages and to communicate with you through specific channels and presented in a particular manner. This How To Photography article from PhotographyTalk reveals a few of photo buyers’ preferences, so you’re not wasting your time and money.
This strategy starts by researching the recipients of your email pitches thoroughly. Know their business: Does advertising agency X specialize in a specific type of client or product? What topics are covered in the articles of Y magazine? Why would you send an email about your landscape photography prowess to an art director with catalog clients that need product photography? Another helpful tactic is to write narrowly targeted phrases for the subject lines. If photo buyers are scanning their emails, then you want them to recognize how well you match their need without having to open your email.
It appears that the actual value of social media for digital photographers that want to make strong connections with photo buyers is that many of them use it to update themselves about what photographers they previously hired are doing. Your strategy, therefore, is to add new information to your Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. page, constantly. If you’re generating income from the purchase of your photos (or aspiring to do so) by marketing firms, advertising agencies, design houses and publications, then be aware they are watching—and you want to make sure they’re able to see you!
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