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Tag Archives: Marketing

Is Good Good Enough?

Old-Farm-Truck

DSC_7617-Edit- topaz.jpg, originally uploaded by Jeffrey Jones.

So you take very decent photos and your friends, and even strangers, love your work. Armed with an arsenal of compliments you figure it is time to sell your work to the public at large. Is being good, good enough to be successful? The answer is a resounding “no” and there is a number of reasons why.

Is your work distinguishable from the crowd of other photographers?

If it isn’t then you better work hard to give people a reason to choose your work over another’s because when a person sees your work they shouldn’t get your work confused with somebody elses Look around at the work people do in the area that you plan to sell. See what themes and subjects are popular.You may find certain themes are popular and that may be an avenue to pursue. But don’t copy the work of the countless photographers who shoot that (whatever). Instead find your own individual way to shoot the subject or theme.

Do people want to hang it up in their home?

As I learned the hard way, just because people love your pictures, even the point of remarking and asking questions about your particular work, that does not mean they want to hang your pictures on their walls. If I had a dollar for every time somebody told me “I sure do love your work” I would be wildly successful (actually that is a bit of and exaggeration). But looking strictly at art print sales, while I do sell, it isn’t in high enough volumes to even be considered mildly successful. . I think part of the issue is this: while we tend to think of pictures as art, in the mind of the buyer it is really just décor.” People purchase photography to accent a room rather than to accent an emotion.

How do you plan to market yourself?

Artwork, even photography, does not sell itself. It requires more than just posting some pictures on the web. The “if I post it, they will come” attitude will net you a big fat NOTHING. Even putting your work in busy venues may not offer much in the term of sales either. Selling your work means selling yourself. That doesn’t mean that you must greet every person you meet with an elevator speech, but it does mean that you need to play an active role in promoting you and your work.

My biggest “market” is the people I know. I never push my products or services on them but they know about my work and I find ways to display my work in a non-pushy way. This ranges from posting pictures on Facebook to bringing new prints into work. Seek out even simple opportunities to promote your work.

Is your work exceptional?

There are plenty of good photographers out there. Technology has removed some of the barriers of entry and reduced the learning time for dramatically improving one’s photography. If you work is only good, you need to rethink entering into this business until you improve, especially regarding fine art. There is no room for mediocrity.

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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Business Advice

 

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Why Aren’t YOU Blogging?

 

Currently, there are approximately 113 MILLION different blogs on the Internet with 175 THOUSAND new ones created every day. Given that some many people are blogging may make one wonder why she should even bother starting her own. After all, does the world need yet another blog? Can anyone produce something that hasn’t been done before? 

Well, maybe the world needs another blog like it needs another book, or movie or music cd. While it is difficult to state that such an endeavor will shake the foundation of the earth there are good reasons to blog. Below I give some reasons why I think blogging is important. I will divide this into personal and professional reasons since there are different ends for performing this exercise. 

Personal Reasons: 

Keeping in contact. The popularity of Facebook demonstrates how important we feel it is to keep in touch with friends and family. We don’t have the time (or care) to make a phone call, but we do like to know life is going for the people we know. This is nothing new. While writing letters is perhaps a dying “art” there are still some people that send lengthy letters at Christmas time detailing the family events of the year. Reading those letters gives us a nice feeling of connectivity. But instead do doing one large letter at year’s end, why not just do smaller ones on a more frequent basis? This removes the burden of trying to recalling all the year’s events. You just simply do updates on a regular basis (say every two weeks) OR as big events transpire. Blogging makes this very easy. 

Improve writing skills. Most of us are not great writers and we may never achieve that status but we can improve. The problem is that we often don’t improve and we actually get worse. Once out of school almost all of us stop writing papers and essays. Yes we do write emails and do a lot of texting but that does not demand the same amount of skill that more formal and creative writing does. 

Reflection.  Someone once said that an unreflected life is not worth living. Whether or not you completely agree with that statement, there is something to be said about taking the time away from our hectic schedule to reflect and to ponder. So much of out time is taken up absorbing information (listening to music, reading books, watching movies) that we seldom take the time to make sense of it all. And if we try to communicate to others in a meaningful way, that necessitates that we take the time to properly understand. It is of no surprise that those who learn the most are those who teach. Start communicating and see what you learn. You may learn for the first time those things you already knew. 

Business: 

Improving Web traffic. Blogging is a very cost effective way to drive internet traffic to your site. With a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) one can generate a form of online marketing that cost very little money (like free). 

Advertising products and services. When companies have specials or want to highlight a new product they often advertise by way of a newsletter. These are sent out on a somewhat regular frequency and often in the form of an email. Blogging give as way for companies to highlight those special items without having to wait until the newsletter is sent.  This is especially true if customers subscribe to the blog. 

Connect with the customers. Just blogging is not enough, you need to give your readers/customers some value. Seeing fresh posts make customers realize that there is life within a company. That means that your company is not some lifeless entity which robotically fills orders but rather is populated with real people who actually giving information they want/need and the author(s) is somebody that is somewhat tangible.  A chance to connect on a more personal way with current and future customers is priceless.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2010 in Musings

 

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Networking – What is it good for?

Networking is one of those buzz words that seems to be flying about. We have all heard the adage “it isn’t what you know but who you know” so often that it is cliché. But how important is it to network? How big of a role should it play in the development and marketing of your business?

Starting a business is always difficult, but finding customers is even harder. In the beginning of my portrait business I selected a market and worked hard to promote it. This was done mainly through my photography booth at art fairs and farmers markets. The first year I handed out a lot of fliers but did not get much business and the second year I went even further by taking down names of interested people and put them on a mailing list. Sadly, all that extra effort has not generated any increase of business. This was really discouraging because every week people expressed a need for portraits  AND they liked my work and prices. Yet with all their excitement at the time those intentions never materialized into later sales.

After some reflection, the realization hit that almost all of my portraiture work was commissioned by people I personally know. At first that was discouraging since I felt like this indicated a failure to market myself to an audience larger than my group of friends and acquaintances. But then it hit me. Instead of thinking of this as a failure, it really was a success. People who know me and like my work will hire me. In competition with all the other photographers and voices in the world people like to deal with people they know and trust. By increasing the number of people I know, and making them aware of my quality services, should increase the amount of commissions that I receive.

I still plan to “advertise” as I have in the past, but with some changes. I will attend fewer of those events than I did in the past and instead start working on cultivating relationships. Not the false kind of “I want to be your friend so I can use you” but rather one of sincerity and, hopefully, of mutual benefit. But even if this method still doesn’t generate the amount of business that I hope, there is one blessing I will receive – new friendships.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2010 in Business Advice

 

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Different times calls for different measures

A photography business is no longer a business just about taking pictures, it is about marketing and using the internet to best leverage your business. Decades ago the options for advertising was few and the costs were high.  Even small Yellow Pages ads could cost hundreds of dollars a month. Yet with all of their costs, were they ever that effective? I don’t think so. And following the trends of current businesses, many others don’t think so as well.

The internet is a great leveling device. It allows the small guy (like me) to, with a little know how and maybe a little bit of money, compete with the bigger companies. But throwing up a website is not enough. Neither is starting a Facebook page. To drive the traffic, and to keep our businesses in front of people, we must learn the “rules” of the game and to say on top of current trends and technology.

This week I listened to one of the photography podcasts I subscribed to and was blown away with what the guest had to say. The focus of the show was Search Engine Optimization in relation to the photographer, but if you are not in the photography business, don’t let that stop you from listening because there are many, many nuggets of information you will gain. And, after you have listened to the podcast, let us know your thoughts.

Podcast on Search Engine Optimization

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2010 in Business Advice

 

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