While it could be said that in today's world photographers are a dime a dozen, the truth is that really good photographers are much more rare. Like so many other professions, photography has been turned on its head by the Internet and improved technology in the tools of the trade. Still, the fact that there are thousands of people out there shooting pictures hasn't changed the fact that there is a difference between a snapshot artist and a creative genius.
Why, then, do we see so many snapshot artists selling photos and so many of those creative geniuses frustrated with lack of sales or flat-out giving up? It comes down to one simple fact. Photography is like any other business in one very basic way: It doesn't matter how good you are if you're not promoting yourself properly. No one will buy your products or services if they don't know about them. That is the number one reason while many truly amazing photographers fail.
Ironically, some of the same technology that changed the game for photographers has only frustrated many of them even more. Sure, you can set up an online portfolio quickly and easily in minutes, and connect it to any number of sales platforms. Heck, many of the sales platforms can even print and frame your photos for you. Each of these steps usually means giving up some of the profits, but that's alright, it's all part of being in business, right? Right, provided there's some profit to give up! Without promotion, that isn't going to happen.
Social media advertising isn't as easy as many newcomers think, either. Your personal Facebook and Twitter accounts have a limited reach and it takes something really spectacular to extend beyond that reach. If you've looked into the effort and possible costs associated with Facebook business page, then you know that you've got to convert posts into sales to make it work. Social media promotion can be powerful, but not until you learn to make it work or hire someone to do it for you.
By now, you're probably wondering if I'm writing this article just to help you decide to give up. I assure you, that isn't the case. I'm simply pointing out that the traditional process of promoting yourself as a photographer is still a considerable amount of work, even with all the awesome new tools available.
Don't get me wrong, all that traditional stuff is still important. You need an online portfolio. You need to post to Facebook. You need to blog about your work. Any testimonials you can get from clients are a great help. Everything you think you should be doing to promote yourself online, you should be doing. Business cards are a must. The real difference, though, is to find the things that work for you, instead of making more work for you. You know, it's that whole “work smarter, not harder” thing.
One of my favorite ways to do that is with KeepSnap, because they've created an online directory of photographers. You simply sign up and anyone looking for a photographer for a wedding or other event in their area can search the directory to find one that meets their needs. They promote the directory. All you have to do is be listed on it. It doesn't get any easier than having the clients come to you! I highly recommend you check them out.
A little bit of research will show you lots of other ways to take some of the promotional work off your shoulders. For instance, some of the sites that host images for your online portfolio or sales will automatically post to your Facebook page or Twitter account every time you upload or update an image. That should be one of the criteria you look for when you decide what services to sign up for.
There's no escaping the fact that without promotion, your photo business isn't going to succeed. There's also no getting around the fact that promotion is a lot of work. Give yourself an edge by taking advantage of services that do some of the work for you.