Feeling ready to upgrade your hobby into a job and make money taking pictures? You’ll be exploring some classic questions. The first ones are: what now? Where should I promote my services? And how? In this series we’ll be leading you through the basics of marketing for photographers. In our introduction we’ll familiarize you with the basic marketing channels you’ll be using as a photographer.
There are many different roads to marketing. And there are many marketing channels and a variety of theories on how to work with them as well.
That’s why we’ll be picking out and describing the ones that we consider to be a suitable foundation for every photographer. And likewise we’ll be trying to go—at the cost of some simplification—straight to the point and give you information that’s good to know right at the start.
Create Your Online Portfolio
When you hear the words “Marketing Channel,” an online portfolio is probably what you think of first. Watch out, because we’re saying “portfolio” deliberately: this doesn’t have to be the usual photographer’s website. There are multiple possibilities, and right from the start, you need to think over which solution is the one for you. What are your options?
Websites Built on Robust Content Management Systems. By this we mean e.g. the WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla: Content Management Systems (you may just know the abbreviation CMS). Each one of these is a fairly large and often complex and sophisticated system that requires at least some basic technical talent, or at least willingness to learn. In return, each of them lets you use predesigned templates (even for free—and some templates are made directly for photographers) where you can easily fill in what you need.
Websites produced in online editors. Webydo, Wix, Mozello, and more. Besides these robust CMSes, there are also online editors that often offer templates that are prettier-looking and easier to control. In many cases you can use these to create timeless and good-looking pages (even for free).
Online photography portfolios. Flickr, Behance, Portfoliobox, etc. Pages that let you create a profile, upload photographs, and send a link to your creations however you like. This means no worries over buying a domain or paying for hosting. On the other hand, you can forget about having your own URL.
Other tools. Do you know Tumblr? Even though this platform was created mainly for blogging, it can adapt to photographers as well. And it’s also free. But here once again, forget about having your own domain.
Be on the Social Web
If you’re not on social, you’re not really anywhere? Yes and no. It’s definitely better to not have accounts on social networks at all than to have them and ignore them and then complain that “it” isn’t working. But if you want to promote yourself and you also keep in mind that you have make a certain investment into promotion, social networks can be a good help.
Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing social networks. It is a “bookmarking” service—it lets its users create collections of pictures and photos. It’s not as well-known in every country as Facebook is. Meanwhile, note that photographers in non-English speaking countries also often run one Pinterest for English and one for their own language.
LinkedIn is a professional network that brings together professionals from a variety of fields, from receptionists to multinationals’ CEOs. It can be very helpful if you’ve decided to offer conference photography, “business” portraits of companies’ employees, etc.
But watch out, because LinkedIn is no Facebook (for now at least)—it’s barren ground for many kinds of posts, and you’ll have real difficulty building your personal brand there. But if it does happen to work out (and this is often after long efforts), it can bring many attractive opportunities.
Don’t Be Afraid of Paid Ads
Ever heard of pay per click—PPC? This is an umbrella term for ads where, to simplify, you pay whenever readers click it. You can find ads like these directly within Google searches, but also—often in the form of banners—on a variety of partner websites across the internet.
Clicking a PPC ad takes the reader to the page that needed the extra visibility, and the ad buyer pays for that click. Again—to put it simply. In reality the whole process is more complicated. This all works similarly on social networks as well.
It’s no exaggeration to say that preparing paid ads is a bit of a black art, and photography is, like it or not, a competitive environment, which makes it difficult to put together a truly successful advertisement. If you’re thinking about launching ads like these, it’s better to turn to an expert for help. You’ll earn back the money you spend on a consultation faster than you think.
Be There at Professional Events
Leaving your cave to go “out somewhere?” Definitely a possibility! It’s a good choice for anyone doing wedding or portrait photography, and often if you do product or business photography as well. So try sitting down to your PC, visiting Google, and checking out what kinds of trade fairs connected with weddings, etc. will be held in your area in the months to come.
One warning! If you decide that you do want to visit one of these trade fairs as an exhibitor, be sure to think about how you’ll be presenting yourself. Laying your printed photos onto the table and throwing a smile might work if you have no competition around. But you can be sure that your competition will be working hard on their stands, flyers, banners, and business cards.
B2B Marketing—Contacting Companies
Want to concentrate your photography work on business portraits and photos of conferences, working meetings, etc.? Or maybe on product photos? Then companies are what you’ll be needing to focus on. We won’t lie to you here, addressing the right person at the right company is hard.
So try starting by picking companies in your area that you can approach to offer them your services. You should also come to terms with the fact that at first—before you accumulate enough experience and create an adequate portfolio—you’ll have to bring your prices down a bit. You’ll also need to think over the wording and visuals for the email or messages you’ll be sending to company representatives, and choose the best tool through which to do it.
Naturally there are many other channels that you can use as a photographer as well. It all depends on your courage, abilities, willingness to learn, creativity, and time. Keep on following our series on marketing for photographers. We’re confident this series will enable you to break through into marketing basics, understand how to promote your work, and discover a number of tips to expand your horizons.