Learning to take great photographs has never been easier, but what do you do next?
Self-promotion is one of the trickiest parts of working in any creative industry. Whether you are an artist, a musician, a photographer or any other kind of creative professional, it is an uphill battle to figure out how to promote yourself effectively.
Throughout your younger years, it is natural to want to tell others of the fantastic achievements you have completed. This does not always end well – being called a big-head or a show-off at certain points during your emotional development can affect you much more than you realize later in life.
The way to sidestep any such negative experiences is to think of your photography as being not just you personally; sure, your personality is an essential element and needs to be refined as you get older, but you really need to combine aspects such as your personality, experience and knowledge into a brand that you consider to be a separate entity from yourself as a person.
Why you MUST learn to promote yourself.
Understandably, musicians want to spend all their time in the studio making records, and photographers would love nothing more than to spend most of their time shooting and editing their photographs. If you do this though, how would anybody ever learn about the fantastic products you are creating?
If you want to make it as one of the elites who successfully eschew the nine to five grind in favor of doing your own thing the majority of the time, you need to take your photography brand seriously and dedicate a share of your time towards raising your profile, promoting your work, and monitoring the competition to see what other people are doing in your industry.
Think about it this way; You have reached the stage where it is not just your mother and your close friends who are telling you that you have an amazing talent. It is time to demonstrate that talent to a wider range of people. Get your name out there, show people what you can do, and if it seems difficult at first then do not panic – like most things, self-promotion gets easier with time.
First Up: Get You, Your Business & Your Brand on the Web
Creative professionals are constantly producing new content, and the web is the perfect place to show it off to over seven billion people. Website building tools such as Wix and SquareSpace make it easy for amateurs to create great looking websites. If you have tried these and are not happy with the results, head on over to Fiverr where you will find hundreds of eager website builders willing to help you out for a very reasonable fee.
What you need is a portfolio of all your best images, make it clear that there is photography art for sale but do not push the point too hard – make sure your contact details are easily accessible from all areas of the site and people will come to you.
Do not forget about social media too – you do not have to worry too much about how things are displayed on these sites, as the layout is fixed by the site creators. Just create some medium resolution versions of your best images (you do not need to upload 40MP stills to Facebook!) and post them on Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, 500px, and whatever other services are currently flavor of the month.
Once your photography business bringing in some real income you might consider looking at services such as ZenFolio, but there are better uses for your promotional budget in the early days.
Next: Got yourself a great client? Show them how important they are!
Word of mouth has proven to be the best way of acquiring new customers, even in the internet age. For this reason, you should aim to deliver the absolute best service you can to every new client you acquire. Go above and beyond what they expect and be prepared to do a few things free of charge now and again.
Do not take this tip too far but consider it this way: if you help somebody out in their hour of need, they are dramatically more likely to choose you when they are back on their feet and in need of the service you provide. Take part in a charity project that your client is involved with, perhaps, or take a few pictures of your neighbor’s children’s birthday party even if they cannot afford to pay your full fee for something so mundane.
Networking & Reaching Further Afield
Before the internet took off in a big way, attending the monthly meetings of your cities chamber of commerce were an essential date on any aspiring creatives calendar. Nowadays, events such as this do still exist, though perhaps not as frequently as they once were, and certainly with a reduced head count compared to days gone by.
Whilst the internet is undoubtedly your number one way of reaching new clients in 2021, meeting people face to face even for a short period of time will give you so much more information about a prospect’s personality, their needs, and their budget than hours of back and forth over messenger will.
This face-to-face advantage applies equally to video conferencing apps too, so be prepared to always take Zoom or Skype calls, day or night. Carry business cards with you wherever you go and do not be shy about handing them out – everyone knows somebody with an upcoming wedding, event, function or gig that could use the services of a professional photographer. Ask your regular sandwich shop if you can leave a few cards on the counter (be sure to take a vertical holder along so they don’t end up all over the floor on day one), and if you spot a fellow creative in a different field out and about, go hand them a card – you just never know what services they might be looking for, and what they might be able to do for you in return.
Whilst there is no magic formula that can guarantee success, you certainly will not go far wrong if you follow the advice given on this page. There is plenty more out there though – plan the time you will spend promoting your brand, add it to your calendar in between your bookings, your practice, and hopefully, your leisurely pursuit of photography – because the best creatives are undoubtedly the ones who absolutely love their artform. Try all the ideas you can come up with, one at a time, and record the results. See what works for YOUR business.
And always remember, never give up – nobody ever said this career path would be easy. Should you be successful and achieve the level of recognition you deserve though, the rewards will be more than worth ever second you have invested.