In today’s competitive market you need to be noticed and these days there are lots of cost effective ways you can exploit that in order to help put your name, and your business, out there.
There have probably never, ever been more people out there offering photographic services, and while it’s great that what was once such a closed profession is now so wide open to everyone, it also means that the competition has never been stiffer, and you’re going to have to do something pretty special if you want to stand out from the crowd.
The good news is that for the self-motivated and marketing-savvy individual there are plenty of opportunities out there to spread the word about what you’re doing and to provide much more of a profile about who you are, what makes you special and why someone looking for a photographer might consider booking your services.
All of these things are important now because the ground rules for the photography business have changed, and clients are increasingly becoming more discerning. Some will be booking on nothing more than price, but many others are looking not just at the quality of the pictures you can produce but also at you as an individual to see if you sound like the kind of person they might want to spend time with. Increasingly the rapport you can create between you and the client is important and if you can put some of your character into your sales material then it will all help to establish who you are.
Take care with your website
The first thing you need to think about is a strong website, and here again the key is to try to come up with something that will stick in the mind of those who visit it. All the usual rules apply: it has to be welcoming, easy to navigate and it’s crucial that it loads quickly, otherwise your visitor will simply head off to the next site. More than all this, however, it needs to have something distinctive about it that will make it memorable.
There are websites out there that stand out because they are brilliantly designed, or maybe they’re just so quirky that you can’t get them out of your mind. If you’re focusing on a niche – say you’re looking to concentrate on themed or vintage weddings – then maybe this needs to be emphasised from the moment that someone lands on your home page. You’ll lose bookings from those who aren’t into your specialist area but you’ll attract more of the people you’re interested in and so the trade off can work well.
These days, and I know that Kat and I are singing off the same hymn sheet on this one, the importance of the website has slightly diminished on the back of the emergence of the blog, and this really is a way that you can shout about who you are and send a message out to your prospective clients that you are not only a great photographer but also someone who is innovative, exciting and fun to work with. Get your blog right and it can become a magnet that attracts regular followers who enjoy hearing about what you’ve been up to and what your latest assignments have been. You need to work at it to keep it continually up to date and it’s important to adopt the right tone and to make it lively and interesting to read, but it could be one of the best ways there is to build your profile.
Kat’s excellent contribution to Photo Professional on a monthly basis is all about the power of blogs and it’s a message that simply can’t be put across too strongly. The exciting thing is that geographical barriers are down now and it’s made some of the most successful bloggers international names. I’ve loved being influenced by photographers in places such as Australia and the US that I would never once have ever come across, and not only is this a brilliant way to shout about what you do, trawling the blogs is probably the best way there is to pick up fresh ideas and to come across marketing and promotional ideas that you can try out on your own clientele.
The traditional media
While it’s crucial in this electronic age to have a strong online presence, you still can’t ignore the potential benefit of getting something published in the traditional media. I did a workshop at the SWPP Convention last year in which I covered this area, and I’m not just talking about having your images and maybe even your words published in the pages of a magazine such as Photo Professional, I’m also thinking about the value of being a regular in your local newspaper and maybe also in publications that cover areas of the wedding market that you are looking to target.
The first thing you need to do is to identify publications that you think would be a useful vehicle for your work, and you need to be clear about why you think they could help you. A local paper, for example, helps to identify you as someone who is part of the local community, and if you develop a relationship with the news or features editor, perhaps by offering competitions or by being willing to contribute to stories that they are running, then you’ll be the person they think about when a story comes up that relates to your area of speciality.
With specialist magazines such as the one I edit you’re talking to fellow professionals and so the approach would be different. Here you might be talking about things that relate to your profession, such as successful promotions that you’ve run, techniques that have worked for you and niches that might have discovered. If you do get published then shout about it to your present – and future – clients. Nothing is more impressive than a photographer being lauded by their peers, and if a client sees that you’re considered enough of an authority to be published then it can cut a lot of ice.
These are the brief essentials and, of course, there’s enough to talk about to write a whole book on this subject. Essentially you have to get over any inhibitions or feelings that it’s somehow a little brash to shout about your skills and what you have to offer. Others who might be far less talented than you are won’t think twice about it and ultimately, if your work really isn’t up to scratch, no amount of marketing skills will ever be enough to bluff you through.
If your work is good, however, and you are getting your name out there to the right people then you’ve got every chance of building up your name and rising above the crowd in a very busy industry.
Terry Hope is the editor-in-chief at Photo Professional Magazine, a monthly UK photography magazine targeted towards photographers of all genres and levels of experience. Kat Williams has a monthly column in the magazine where she writes about how wedding photographers can use blogs and social media to improve their businesses.