It should come as no surprise that being a great photographer isn't enough to ensure your success in the photography business. There are a lot of great photographers out there and the sad truth is that most of them aren't making a living with their photos. I also don't think it's any secret that the difference is business promotion. Like it or not, marketing and promotion are the keys to success in any business venture and getting paid for your photography is no exception. The bright side is that it's never been easier.
The secrets to successful promotion in today's market lie in blending the “tried and true”, old-fashioned methods with the power of modern technology. Yes, the game has changed in our hyper-connected society, but it's important to remember that, in the end, your buyers and/or clients are real, live people. The personal touch is still a critical part of the process, even though the media we use today can connect you with clients anywhere in the world. Let's look at a few of the most effective ways to combine the power of technology with your own people skills, to build a promotional plan that works, while still leaving you time to enjoy being a photographer.
Let's start off with one of those tools that's been bringing clients to businesses since the Dark Ages. In my opinion, it's the second most powerful tool in your arsenal. Handing a person your business card can help break the ice or seal a deal when you're talking with people anywhere. It also still says, “I'm a professional.”
Here's where modern technology comes into play with your card. Thanks to KeepSnap, you can hand someone a card that will not only connect them directly to your online galleries, but will also let them purchase the prints that they want directly from the KeepSnap servers. All you have to do is edit and upload the photos. There's even a QR code on the card that they can scan to go directly to your profile and galleries.
Here's one that has more recent origins, at least in terms of its label. In the old days, we might have called it socializing or “schmoozing”. Whatever you call it, getting out there and “rubbing elbows”, either literally or virtually, is an important part of promotional work. If you're a people person, it's one of the most enjoyable.
If you're more introverted, this may be the part you really don't enjoy. If that applies to you, social media can actually be your best friend. LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and dozens of other social media platforms can connect you to the right people to get your name, face and work out there without making you get out there. If you're more outgoing, you'll do even better with these platforms by interacting with people.
A combination of online and face-to-face networking is the one-two punch that makes this aspect of promotion work best.
This is one of the tools that has become almost wholly dependent on the Internet. When was the last time you physically picked up your phone book to find a business? That's how often potential clients are looking for you there, too. Today's consumers use the Internet to find what they need and want, and photographers and photography are no exception to that rule.Listing your photography business in online directories is one of the easiest ways to extend the reach of your advertising. The reason is simple: the promotional work is done for you. The most popular directories are in that position because their owners work hard to keep them there. All you need to to is maintain your profile.
This is another area where KeepSnap shines. Their directory of photographers has global reach, while focusing on local and regional searches. If a potential client is looking for a photographer for an event or some vacation photos, they can find one quickly and easily by searching the KeepSnap directory. Make yourself available to those clients.
Get Your Work Published
Nothing is quite as rewarding as seeing your photos in someone else's publication. It's also a great way to establish yourself as something more than just a person with a nice camera, and it looks great on a resume!
Getting published isn't always easy, but may not be as difficult as you think. Even the high-end publications, like National Geographic have contests and challenges that anyone can enter. Local and regional trade publications can be a great way to get your photos in print, too.
This is one promotional platform that I believe is still stronger in the analog world. While there are plenty of online publications that may accept and even pay a fee for your photos, work published in a printed publication still has more impact, and most major publications will publish the work online as well.
The Rest of the Job
You may have noticed that I've skipped some of the more obvious promotional tools, like having a website. While I believe that your photography website is an important part of your promotional strategy, I've focused more in this article on promotional tools that give you the highest return for the least amount of effort. I think you'll find them useful, simple and powerful.