What Should I Be Doing?

20 replies
Here's the deal.

I'm not inquiring about Internet Marketing in the sense that many people on here do, but more so using IM in order to boost an offline business.

For the past couple of years, I've been dabbling in photography as a hobbyist. I'd take paid projects every now and then but I've mostly been a hobbyist. I've devoted a lot of times into not only becoming a great photographer but becoming a great photo editor as well. Because I've been an artist my whole life, what has driven me as a photographer was putting together great works of art. Apparently, people are responding to that because many tend to speak really highly about my work, going as far as telling me that I'm better than most full-time pros. These same people have strongly suggested that I take it seriously and make a go at it on the business end. This is where I come to you all for advice.

Outside of printing flyers, passing out business cards, word of mouth recommendations, a website, etc. I really have no idea of what I should be doing in order to promote my photography business and drive in business. I've gotten flyers and business cards printed, which has had an impact but I feel that the internet could have a much bigger impact. However, I have no idea how to gain a large, responsive social media following (buying fake followers is not my cup of tea). My knowledge of marketing online is very rudimentary but, based on what I see others doing, I understand that it may be my best bet.

If anyone's willing to share some general advice, I'd greatly appreciate it.
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  • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
    "What Should I Be Doing?"

    You should be searching Google for relevant marketing information from other photographers. There's plenty of info, out there. I just looked.

    Most of the info you will get here will be generic. If we have any professional photographers, in-house, you could probably count them on one hand.

    I have been an avid photographer for most of my life and have had many of my photos published in books and magazines, but they are of tropical fish, so I don't have any marketing advice for you. There aren't many fish photographers around, so marketing is not an issue. It's a small world and we are all well known, within it.

    Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    A few suggestions...

    First, get a website that acts as part portfolio, part sales letter. Get testimonials to post on your site.

    Learn local SEO.

    Think of specialty niches to get started that may not have as much competition, such as pet photography. Make a list of potential JV partners. For example, for pet photography make a list of vets, pet stores, pet walkers/sitters and come up with mutually beneficial agreements.

    Make businesses cards, brochures, discount coupons, etc., for each JV partner and give out each others' sales literature every time you can.

    You can create different sites for different specialty photography services and advertise each on sites like Craigslist. You may even want to offer private photography tutoring to see if that will work.

    I'm not sure if each of the ideas below is viable, but they should help brainstorm ways to differentiate your services from the competition:

    Contact local musicians, bands, singers, street musicians, as well as any live performance such as a play or dinner theater to create photo albums of the performances they can sell or use for promotion.

    Local sports teams, like Little League baseball, soccer, school teams, etc. - Take team and individual photos.

    Team up with local experts to create lessons and "how to" courses. Self defense, cooking, gardening, pet training, home improvement and lots more are possibilities.

    Photograph collections, like stamps, coins, baseball cards, etc., to document them for insurance reasons. You can create photos of collections and market them as a way for owner to show off his or her collection without having to take the entire collection with them.

    Make photo records of inventories and possessions for documentation for legal and insurance reasons.

    Social events, but don't limit yourself to just weddings. Family reunions, anniversaries, parties, graduations are all possibilities.

    Take photos of homes, apartments, commercial real estate properties and land for relators.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
    Using something like Book Yourself Solid (you can find on Amazon) as a base may be helpful. The book isn't for photographers, per se, but for most people that provide a service.

    Then once you have a good marketing foundation and are using what you learn, it will be easier to fill in any photographer specific gaps not covered by the book.

    I used the original version as a base to grow a service business so I know the fundamentals are there and they work. He is on the 4th Edition now so I'm sure it's even better - the original didn't even mention social media I don't think because it barely existed at the time.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Do you know any professional full-time photographers that are making money online? If so, or even if you don't, I would seek out a mentor (or even a good friend) that you can learn from.


    Put up a nice, professional web site so you can show off your images. Create a way for people to contact you from any location. Most of all, work toward identifying a specific niche market that you enjoy and where money flows (where you will be paid well for your talent). IMO, your best path to making a nice living as a photographer is to focus on one type of photography and get really good at it. "Generalists" seem to struggle these days because there are lots of specialists that really do one thing very well.


    I wish you the best in finding your path,


    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
    Originally Posted by Sean Carter View Post

    Because I've been an artist my whole life, what has driven me as a photographer was putting together great works of art. Apparently, people are responding to that because many tend to speak really highly about my work, going as far as telling me that I'm better than most full-time pros.
    Possibly, I missed something. I focused on this as your main area of interest. If that's true, like I said, the info you will most likely receive here will be very generic and possibly much more 'commercial' in nature that what I believe you are expressing an increased interest in and commitment to reaching new heights through an expanded audience for your work.

    I'd still give Google a spin. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author affmarketer101
    Email outreach for local clients. I have been doing it in my country and it's working pretty well.
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  • Profile picture of the author ashwinsd
    Do you have a blog? If no start one. Share some of your work on the blog and then share that blog on social media.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rose Anderson
    If you want local work I'd suggest posting in local Facebook groups. That's where I see photographers in my area getting work. Almost all cities have these groups now. Usually several.

    Be sure and read the rules. Most allow you to make business posts but only once a week or on a certain day. Others don't allow any type of promotion so don't post until you're aware of the rules.

    If you're just wanting to sell your work, then make prints and see if you can display them in local stores or restaurants and give the business a commission when the work sells. I live in a tourist area and almost every restaurant has the work of local artists displayed. There are also several art studios that display work.

    Kurt is correct that people hire photographers for many occasions. At my mother's 90th birthday party we hired one so my sister and I could just visit with people and not have to worry about taking pics. She did a great job and saved us a lot of stress.

    Define what you want to sell and who you want to sell to. Then go from there.

    Rose
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    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
      Originally Posted by Rose Anderson View Post

      Define what you want to sell and who you want to sell to. Then go from there.
      Whenever you see the phrase, "Creating great works of art," you can bet that birthday parties and most of everything suggested, simply won't do. Trust me on this. :-)
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      "He not busy being born, is busy dying." - Bob Dylan • "I vibe with the light-dark point. Heavy." - Words that Bob Dylan wishes he had written.

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      • Profile picture of the author Kurt
        Originally Posted by OptedIn View Post

        Whenever you see the phrase, "Creating great works of art," you can bet that birthday parties and most of everything suggested, simply won't do. Trust me on this. :-)
        There's plenty of starving artists following their passion...I wonder how many of the folks that complimented the OP actually paid him?
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        • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
          Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

          There's plenty of starving artists following their passion...I wonder how many of the folks that complimented the OP actually paid him?
          And if they did pay him, at what level? Photography suffers from the fact that anyone can use a camera and anyone can think they're a photographer. I took a picture - proof that I'm a photographer. It differs from painting in that very few people can master that.

          Here's a snapshot my friend took of his dog, with an iPhone. There is nothing harder to photograph than a black dog. lol

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          "He not busy being born, is busy dying." - Bob Dylan • "I vibe with the light-dark point. Heavy." - Words that Bob Dylan wishes he had written.

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        • Profile picture of the author Sean Carter
          Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

          There's plenty of starving artists following their passion...I wonder how many of the folks that complimented the OP actually paid him?
          Very few. lol. I was actually thinking about that as I typed this post.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Create helpful photo content Sean and befriend top photographers in your niche. Your content and friend network helps sell your services.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Originally Posted by Sean Carter View Post

    Here's the deal.

    I'm not inquiring about Internet Marketing in the sense that many people on here do, but more so using IM in order to boost an offline business.

    For the past couple of years, I've been dabbling in photography as a hobbyist. I'd take paid projects every now and then but I've mostly been a hobbyist. I've devoted a lot of times into not only becoming a great photographer but becoming a great photo editor as well. Because I've been an artist my whole life, what has driven me as a photographer was putting together great works of art. Apparently, people are responding to that because many tend to speak really highly about my work, going as far as telling me that I'm better than most full-time pros. These same people have strongly suggested that I take it seriously and make a go at it on the business end. This is where I come to you all for advice.

    Outside of printing flyers, passing out business cards, word of mouth recommendations, a website, etc. I really have no idea of what I should be doing in order to promote my photography business and drive in business. I've gotten flyers and business cards printed, which has had an impact but I feel that the internet could have a much bigger impact. However, I have no idea how to gain a large, responsive social media following (buying fake followers is not my cup of tea). My knowledge of marketing online is very rudimentary but, based on what I see others doing, I understand that it may be my best bet.

    If anyone's willing to share some general advice, I'd greatly appreciate it.
    You can go to Amazon and get the book When they say that, you say this. The guy who wrote it participated in the offline section of this forum, which is where I recommend you go. you also need to learn about positioning, which is the reason some photographers make $100 a gig and others make $10,000.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    From a more "artistic" point of view, you can try selling your photos on arts and crafts sites like Etsy. You can sell them as digital downloads and/or as prints using a third party print on demand service.
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    Instagram is the place to be for photogs and artists these days. Here are a few tips:

    - Post as much of your work as you can, use relevant hashtags - not just photography related but also related to the audience you are targeting (those who would be interested in your photographs and/or artwork and/or design services)

    - Engage with others on Instagram that also take an artistic bent to photography - there is room for many editors and designers as different people tend to focus on different areas (Ex cars, music/musicians, food, etc...) Good to search them out and make comments on their work - at least a dozen useful comments a day which will get others coming back to your Insta page

    - Don't forget Insta stories, use these to take people behind the scenes, share tips, testimonials from clients, etc... this will further engage you with your market

    - Comb your area of interest/passion/target market - offer to design or photograph that will help them in some way for either nothing or low cost to get some champions (influencers) that will, in turn, recommend your work on their channel (as they will be connected to many others like themselves who can then become customers)

    You will find (if you haven't already) a very good and growing community on Insta for photogs and designers
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  • Profile picture of the author Tedel
    Don't focus on getting social media followers. When people want to buy a product or service, searching for it on social media is not the first idea that comes to their mind.

    As suggested before, pay attention to local SEO and artists' communities like DeviantArt. If your job is good, you may get "commissions" from there.
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    Author of Heptagrama. PM for my SEO service offer.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sean Carter
      Originally Posted by Tedel View Post

      Don't focus on getting social media followers. When people want to buy a product or service, searching for it on social media is not the first idea that comes to their mind.

      As suggested before, pay attention to local SEO and artists' communities like DeviantArt. If your job is good, you may get "commissions" from there.
      Thanks a lot.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve L
    Originally Posted by Sean Carter View Post

    Here's the deal.

    I'm not inquiring about Internet Marketing in the sense that many people on here do, but more so using IM in order to boost an offline business.

    For the past couple of years, I've been dabbling in photography as a hobbyist. I'd take paid projects every now and then but I've mostly been a hobbyist. I've devoted a lot of times into not only becoming a great photographer but becoming a great photo editor as well. Because I've been an artist my whole life, what has driven me as a photographer was putting together great works of art. Apparently, people are responding to that because many tend to speak really highly about my work, going as far as telling me that I'm better than most full-time pros. These same people have strongly suggested that I take it seriously and make a go at it on the business end. This is where I come to you all for advice.

    Outside of printing flyers, passing out business cards, word of mouth recommendations, a website, etc. I really have no idea of what I should be doing in order to promote my photography business and drive in business. I've gotten flyers and business cards printed, which has had an impact but I feel that the internet could have a much bigger impact. However, I have no idea how to gain a large, responsive social media following (buying fake followers is not my cup of tea). My knowledge of marketing online is very rudimentary but, based on what I see others doing, I understand that it may be my best bet.

    If anyone's willing to share some general advice, I'd greatly appreciate it.
    I'd try and maybe focus on helping one business vertical or industry. This way you can tailor your sales copy to appeal more to them instead of having a more general value proposition. The more specific your value proposition can be to a specific audience that buys on value, the better.

    With that said, focus on one problem your chosen audience is experiencing that your services can be a 'fix' or solution for.
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  • Profile picture of the author owenlee
    Originally Posted by Sean Carter View Post

    Here's the deal.

    I'm not inquiring about Internet Marketing in the sense that many people on here do, but more so using IM in order to boost an offline business.

    For the past couple of years, I've been dabbling in photography as a hobbyist. I'd take paid projects every now and then but I've mostly been a hobbyist. I've devoted a lot of times into not only becoming a great photographer but becoming a great photo editor as well. Because I've been an artist my whole life, what has driven me as a photographer was putting together great works of art. Apparently, people are responding to that because many tend to speak really highly about my work, going as far as telling me that I'm better than most full-time pros. These same people have strongly suggested that I take it seriously and make a go at it on the business end. This is where I come to you all for advice.

    Outside of printing flyers, passing out business cards, word of mouth recommendations, a website, etc. I really have no idea of what I should be doing in order to promote my photography business and drive in business. I've gotten flyers and business cards printed, which has had an impact but I feel that the internet could have a much bigger impact. However, I have no idea how to gain a large, responsive social media following (buying fake followers is not my cup of tea). My knowledge of marketing online is very rudimentary but, based on what I see others doing, I understand that it may be my best bet.

    If anyone's willing to share some general advice, I'd greatly appreciate it.
    The first thing is to get on to Instagram.

    Reach out to your target audience on IG and offer free work.

    Comment on your target audience post. Give some of your personal view etc.

    Start to engage in your audience.

    Grow your audience and I am sure you will start to have enquires coming in.

    Good luck.
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