Everything is important. But one thing is more important than everything.
If you want to avoid standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign reading: “Will photograph for food,” there’s really only one thing you need to know. When you’re starting out as a photographer, everything seems important; buying equipment, getting your workflow right, figuring out business processes, advertising your services, creating your brand … but one thing is more important than all others, because without it, noting else matters: getting hired.
Unfortunately I’ve got some bad news: You constantly have to adjust what you do to be hired. It changes from client to client, from year to year, from advertising platform to advertising platform. (You know no one used Facebook to promote their business 10 years ago, right?) You are not going to stop refining how you go after work – ever.
The good news is that there are myriads of ways to keep your work front and center in the minds of your (potential) clients. The only common denominator is: you need to hustle, you have to build relationships, you must put your name out there.
What’s your marketing plan?
Here’s where you can start: google your business (I googled mine: “Photography by Depuhl” – you can do me a favor and google it, too – I’d love to see how Google displays them where you live. Email me (email@example.com) a screen shot and I’ll post them on my blog. Ok, thanks!) Back to your search of your business: What pops up? Is there a business listing on Google? How about reviews from clients? Or worse, bad reviews? Complaints? Nothing?
If you’re a wedding shooter, Facebook will be invaluable to you, letting your clients share your awesome photos with their friends who will hopefully see your amazing work and book you. I am a commercial photographer – my clients don’t use Facebook to search for their photographer – although I did get one of my biggest clients on Facebook – but there are so many more places online Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram…with new ones coming all the time.
Just remember it is social media – there needs to be a relationship, that gets nurtured. Maybe the initial point of contact is your Facebook post, LinkedIn profile or tweet, but then the real work begins. As hard as it is to get a new client, it is much more important to keep that client so that you get hired for his next job.
Don’t stop. Just hustle. Use every tool at your disposal to contact the client as close to themoment of relevance. For instance I use web technology that emails me the second a potential client contacts me through my website. An iPhone app let’s me decide if I want to call or email a response then or when I get back into the office. How long does it take for you to email a prospect back?
How do you promote yourself?
Don’t stop at social media. Get your name out there and remember you’re not gonna stop doing that for as long as you are a photographer. Here’s some of what I’ve done in the last few months to promote my work: won “Best of ASMP” contest; screened my documentary at a film festival; gave a TEDx talk on how Art changes minds; volunteered to help produce video workshops, represented ASMP at local events… Tweet mehow you promote yourself.
Read the whole article on Strictly Business, the American Society of Media Photographer‘s blog: Will Photograph For Food [click here to read the whole article] and check out what other bloggers are writing about launching your photography career.