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5 years ago

MarketingHack #15: Become a regular writer on a national blog

MarketingHack 15: Become a regular contributor to a national blog (or two).
2 and a half years blogging for ASMP blog

Click to see all the articles I’ve written for ASMP’s national blog “Strictly Business” over the last 30 months

Your clients are searching for an expert

Picture this: someone googles photographer – or any other business for that matter. What kind of small business are they looking to find? The expert, right? Who is listed on the first page of Google? The experts for that search term, right?

I know there are about a gazillion variables Google combs through to rank their results, but let me ask you one question: If there are two photographers, who rank identical in search, but one consistently writes for a national blog (or two) and the other does not – which one of the two will rank higher?

Simple” you say “the one who is a regular contributor to a well known national blog, but how on earth do you become one of those bloggers?” If it were easy, everybody would be doing this, right?

How do you get national exposure?

Write for the blog of a nationally recognized organization to get national exposure, simple right? Well not so fast. Remember when I said that some of these MarketingHacks are simple, they just fall into your lap (like Marketing Hack #8: Do something unexpected – that one took me a less than an hour and cost less than $10 bucks). Let me be honest, the one we’re talking about here requires work and lots of it.

So you wanna write for a national blog …

This may sound silly, but if you’ve never written for a blog – even if it’s your own – it’s gonna be hard to convince the editors of a national blog to have you write for them as a regular contributor (I’m not talking about the occasional guest blogging here, I’m talking about a commitment to create content on an ongoing a regular basis.)

Start here:

Show your work to the editors, so they can get a feel for how you write. If you can show that you write for other known blogs – even if it’s a guest post – that’s gonna help. Like everything in life …

5 years ago

MarketingHack #14: Get a government agency to feature your content

Marketing is about getting your content out there. The more people see it, the better. Since many people find content via search, it’s important that your content get’s shared and linked to, but did you know that Google actually cares who links to your content? Some of the best incoming links are educational and governmental websites. Search engines know that it is much more difficult to get a back link from a government website than a normal .com sit.

With that fact in mind, I wanted to make sure I went after this kind of link, when I filmed for an NGO that partnered with the European Union commission on Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, or ECHO for short. I had interviewed the head of ECHO in Kabul while filming my short documentary film. That’s why I was thrilled to read the following in an email that was  to me:

“[Name] just passed on the film I’d been asking about – many congratulations, it’s come out beautifully! One of the best I’ve seen from any partner til [sic] date actually, both in terms of format and content – very well done! (…) In any case, I really feel this film deserves more visibility, and I’m quite sure we could find other platforms for it (starting of course with the ECHO website!), so please let me know what the plans are.

An employee of a European Union government department wrote these words. ECHO is a partner with the NGO I had filmed ‘On Wings of Hope’ for in Afghanistan.


EU government site links to On Wings of Hope film.


I was humbled and honored by this sentiment, but when they linked to the film on the front page of their website I was ecstatic!

Search engines give government website more weight for inbound links, because they trust these websites more.

So when you create a project or produce a body of work or fashion great online content, it’s a good idea to see if there is any way that you can get a government website (in the US they end with .gov) or at least an educational institution (.edu) to link to your page. It carries more weight than other inbound links.

ECHO site

5 years ago

Marketing Hack #13: Ask to be introduced to someone else’s audience

How to build an audience

It’s not easy getting your marketing message heard today. There is so much noise out there – so many things are vying for every split second of our time, that especially if you’re just starting out you are speaking to no one. How do you build your audience?

Find someone who already has an audience and is willing to introduce you to them. Now there are a couple of people you don’t need to ask. The photographer that is in your market and your direct competition is probably not going to want to introduce you to his audience. I mean we’re all friends, but we also compete for the same work.

Rosh audience

Let me tell you who gave me a chance to be heard: I met Rosh (@RoshSillars) a few years ago. He’s a Detroit photographer that shoots food and people. He was planning to hold a Social Media workshop in Miami many years ago and I had signed up for that. That workshop ended up falling through, but we stayed in touch. Rosh hosts a podcast and -I don’t remember all the details if he asked me or I asked him- but I ended up being a guest on his show. Rosh and I don’t compete. We’re in different markets and we focus our photography on different segments of those markets. It didn’t hurt his business to have a Miami product photographer on. Interestingly enough my first time we spoke about the importance of blogging.

Sharing audiences is a long-term strategy

To be honest, my phone did not ring off the hook, with people begging to photograph for them after the show aired, but Rosh gave me the opportunity to talk to his audience. You never know where these opportunities end up, our most recent collaboration was the Switch2Social workshop I produced in Miami, where Rosh was the main speaker. Rosh has interviewed me for books he’s written, I’ve been on his show a few times and he’s promoted some online events I’ve put on.

As long as there is mutual benefit in these relationships and it makes sense to share your audience. If you’re just starting out – ask another photographer, if they can introduce you to their audience and if you’re an established shooter, don’t be afraid to share some new voices with your audience.

5 years ago

Marketing Hack #12: Compliments are meant to be shared

Share compliments your brand receives

Share the compliments your business gets with the world

Referrals are a great source of new business. If my friend tells me that you’re good, his recommendation place a bigger role in my decision to hire you, than pretty much anything else. When the person compliments your brand , by writing a recommendation or giving you a referral, that’s huge!

So perfect it had to be photoshoppedBut there are only a few places online, that let people write these compliments online, I’m thinking primarily LinkedIn (for B2B) and Google (for clients that find you though search) and not so much Yelp – I love Yelp when I’m looking for a restaurant, but I have not seen anyone pull their website up to find a commercial or advertising photographer (that’s why I think it makes no sense for you to advertise on Yelp.)

In the B2B world it’s reviews, referrals and recommendations and the more of an expert the person that’s making the compliment about your brand is, the more worth that comment will have. How do you let people know about these positive comments though, if people don’t leave them on LinkedIn or Google?

Well, I’m glad you asked – here’s what happened to me last week and what I’m doing with that compliment: I’m working on a printed piece to mail to my clients that use me as their product photographer. I’ve shot some basic product photography for them, but we haven’t done any shots, that tell their product’s story. So a few days ago, I contacted a couple art director friends of mine and asked them which tagline went best with this image for the target audience I just described – you can help me as well, by answering the same question:

An unexpected compliment

A short time later I get the responses from my friends, but one of them totally surprises me. He tells me his favorite tagline, but then he starts talking about the photograph itself:

Bob compliments my brand As I’m chatting on Facebook with my Chicago art director friend Bob, he asks me if I did the final retouching/composition of the image. Nope, I say it’s only run through Capture One (the best RAW image processor I know) and I removed a stray hair in photoshop. Other than that it’s exactly the image I saw in my mind as my camera was recording it.

His response? “Well color me IMPRESSED! It’s so perfect, I thought it had to be ‘photoshopped’.” Well gosh darn it Bob, you’re making me *blush*.

Well a compliment from an expert is worth a lot to me and Bob is an expert. He’s been an art director for decades, seen hundreds of thousands of images and thought that this one was so perfect, it had to be photoshopped. That’s saying something, unfortunately…

5 years ago

Marketing Hack #11:Promote your clients – like a champ

Launch your business with a BIG bang!

Promote your clients and let them tell your brands story

There is a God and He loves me.” That’s what I’m thinking when I hang up the phone. I’m so excited, I can hardly contain myself. I had just finished editing my first documentary film, that had been produced as a pro bono piece for a humanitarian organization. I made the movie to tell their story. A distant second reason was to learn how to shot a documentary film and even further down the list, I’m thinking it’s a great piece to launch the video portion of my photography business, if I could put the story about my client front and center. The organization had covered the costs of the production and I was happy to not charge my for my filming and editing, but we had never even considered to include any money to promote their story.

However, in my mind, their story deserves to be premiered in a bigger way, than just setting up a screen in my backyard with some friends – I’m thinking a lot bigger than that–in german we have a word for that Größenwahn (loosely translated it means megalomania = the delusion about one’s importance) or in my case the delusion about how important the story is that the film is telling–but it looks like in reality it is gonna be the garden party with a couple of friends, after all it’s my first documentary film and I’ve only been doing video for 6 months when I filmed it. Before that day, I had almost given up the hope for something big and almost accepted the fact of an intimate launch party with some friends. Almost. Until I get off the phone.

Watch for opportunities to promote your client, where noone is looking

I’m gonna be in Florida, can I come visit?” Daniel had asked me. We’ve know each other for decades and love hanging out together, although we usually live on opposite sides of the globe–we actually were in Cape Town at the same time once, but didn’t find out until weeks later – c’est la vie. Anyway, I was excited to get a chance to spend some time with my college buddy. At the same time I was curious, since he’s usually not in Florida when he comes to the States. When I inquired about the reason for the unexpected, but very welcome visit, his answer stopped me dead in my tracks: “I’m gonna be picking up the plane.

Wait! What plane?The plane on the tarmac in Florida that made it possible to promote my client

Turns out the plane he’s talking about, is the very one that I had flown in and filmed, while I was in Afghanistan. It’s now sitting at an airport 20 minutes from my house, waiting for a new set of engines and an avionics upgrade. “Can we do something with the plane and the movie?” was my first question to him. I’m envisioning something grandiose, like the plane parked next to a big screen that’s playing their story, like my friend Mary always says “Go big, or go home.” I like dreaming big. Remember Größenwahn? But since there’s no budget, the chances of anything happening are remote to say the least. I mean I have to find a place that’s big enough to actually pull this off and I need to be able to get the airplane to that place, if I find one. What are the chances of that happening? Slim to none.

Expect ‘No’ to be the standard answer

I call the company that’s working on the plane. They should to have the hangar, right? So I call them up and get a very nice secretary on the phone, who does a great job of not letting me even speak to her boss. Don’t get me wrong. She’s doing exactly what she is hired to do–get rid of all the crazy people. So how do you handle a polite “No“? Do (a) give up, (b) look for another location, (c) curl up in a corner and cry or (d) none of the above.

Don’t take No for the final answer

I send a nice email thanking her for her time and include a trailer for the movie. 20 minutes later my phone rings.

5 years ago

Marketing Hack #10: How to pick a good URL

How do you spell that?

My first corporate email address was ridiculous. Something like There’s no way on earth someone could remember that.

Today my email is My website is, my blog is and my twitter account is @photosbydepuhl. (See a pattern here?) Since your website is one of the few places online, that you can and should control and that you actually can own get your own URL and host your website(s) – there’s nothing more amateurish than a business who’s email is or or Get your own domain name! It’s not difficult. It’s not expensive and it’s something you gotta do. I use 1and1 internet as my web host and have done so forever. They do a great job at a fair price and have tremendous customer service.

What should I call it?

Think SEO when choosing your domain name. Consider your brand. What are people expecting, what are they searching for? Are you a product like or should it be your name like Whatever you decide, make your URL memorable? And do this as soon as you think about it. It costs next to nothing to own a domain name, even if you’re not doing anything with it.

Get something you can say. Something that makes sense. My domain revolves around my last name Depuhl, and although I have to spell it every time I say it, if you know me you know my website. In addition to looking professional, controlling your own domain also means controlling your email addresses. No more

Make your domain name part of your due diligence, before you commit to a legal name for your business. When we were thinking about ideas for names for my Afghan documentary, one of the things I looked at where domain names – fortunately, the film industry standard is so that made it a little easier, but I secured the domain name as soon as possible. You can watch the movie at See? That’s easy to say, it’s easy to read, it’s easy to share and you know what you’re getting yourself into. Oh and make sure your domain names auto renew, otherwise a lot of your hard earned work is for nothing when you let them lapse.

Tech Tip: customize your link shorteners.

If you want to share content that you don’t own, like the video of my TEDx talk, for example, use a link shortener; but PLEASE customize it, since you won’t remember if it was or and yes those are different links. That’s why the short link to my TEDx talk is easy to remember, easy to share, easy to embed.

[UPDATE: If you’ve clicked on the last link, you’ll be disappointed. TEDx decided to change the underlying links, so my nice human readable link is dead. I figured well that’s easy – you just change the underlying link and you’re back in business, unfortunately, makes it pretty expensive to make that change happen. My favorite link shortener is mine no more. So bye bye and hello to rebrandly. Rabrandly lets you change the links for free and even better, you get to make your own link shortener if you’d like. So my TEDx talk is now to be found at and if the people at TEDx decide to rearrange their links again, that’s no problem – now I can keep my shortener and no one will run into an ugly redirect.]

This Marketing Hack is valuable, because …

… you don’t remember the first email I had at work, right? But you do remember the site for my TEDx talk or the URL for my film. Make your URL work for you. It needs to work for your marketing, your SEO and you need to be able to share it easily.