Self Promotion: To exist or not to exist

Why self promotion? To get paid for your photography, you have to identify your market (for your photography niche) and do a self promotion campaign to the publications and markets that are likely to buy and publish your work. You need to submit your literature, your portfolio, your materials, etc. to the specific target market for your niche. One of the most effective methods of promotion is with post cards, for example.

Promotion Tip #1

Suggested Action: Choose your most impressive image and print it on a post card. Then, send it every editor, publisher and art director that you want to shoot for. Include your contact information on every post card.

In addition to post cards, you should publish in resource or stock books. If you want to shoot weddings, for example, you have to be in bridal catalogs. Part of your research should be to determine ‘where do your potential photography customers look for fresh photography.’ That is where you have to be.

Promotion Tip #2

Suggested Action: Begin with a combination of advertising, direct mail, email, telephone calls and faxes. You also need to use several types of communication because everyone has their favorite method to be contacted. Some prefer telephone and fax, others only use email, and others prefer the U.S. Mail. You must use all of these to make certain that your message gets through.

Promotion Tip #3

Suggested Action: When you show your images anywhere – at an art fair, to editors, in your portfolio – anywhere, be sure to have a ‘leave-behind.’ A ‘leave-behind’ is any sample of your photography work with your contact information. A ‘leave-behind’ can be a business card. Of course, business cards are a must, but you need more than a business card to leave a lasting impression on potential customers, clients or potential business partners. Along with business cards, include:

• Bookmarks
• Calendars
• Newsletters
• Business Card Magnets – these are very effective, especially with a stunning photograph on it

Depending on the kind of photography you prefer, you can launch a self-promotion campaign for as little as a few hundred dollars. However, if you want to do fashion or one of the other high-end photographic niches, prepare to spend thousands of dollars on promotion. Your competitors are already spending that much and more. You may have to spend competitively or act more strategically.

Promotion Tip #4

Suggested Action: Be everywhere. There is simply no substitute for self promotion. If you want to be successful selling and publishing your photos, your market needs to see and be aware of you all of the time. A great method to increase your ‘everywhere’ presence is by contributing to your community. Examples:

• Join local service and business organizations
• Offer to do training programs in the community
• Volunteer with charities, fund-raisers
• Present slide shows in the community
• Sponsor a community photo contest
• Write a column for local community papers

Promotion Tip #5

Suggested Action: Be a publicity hound. Public relations is one of the best forms of cost-effective self promotion. Your ‘publicity hound’ tools should include:

• A Press Kit
• An audio press release
• A visual (video VPR) press release
• Your CD Photography Portfolio
• Your resume

Self Promotion Rules

• Don’t sound desperate – regardless how much you want their business
• Use one dramatic photo on your marketing tools rather than many smaller images
• Show only your best work!
• Have your contact information on everything that you have in public
• Use media to spread the word about your photography skills, your photography business and yourself.
• Be prepared to contact a potential customer nine times before they even begin to pay attention to you.

Sending only one or two ‘messages’ just won’t get it done.

If you promote your work and yourself on a regular basis, you will impress your potential customers as professional, dependable and efficient. Self promotion is critical to the success of your photography business. You will not succeed without self promotion. If you cannot do it, hire an agent to do it for you. It must be done or your simply will not succeed in photography as a business.

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