Many photographers today are actively looking for ways to pursue new markets and reach new audiences. This week, our contributors share their thoughts on expanding photography businesses through new offerings, new technologies and new ways of defining who you are and what you do.
[by Kat Dalager]
No one is ever too old to learn new tricks. Staying current with marketing trends is as important as staying current with technology trends. At the same time, understanding established marketing principles is a great base to build upon.
Old Dogs know the importance of cross-channel promotion and the need to create a long-term marketing plan. New Dogs know how to leverage new media channels for maximum exposure. We can all learn from each other.
New Resources in a New World
With the world at our fingertips with the internet, it’s easy to stay on top of trends. Sign up for free eNewsletters within your specialty area. For example, if your client base is in the ad agency world, AgencySpy is a great way to see who’s who and what’s what in the agency world. There are local market sites in most major metropolitan areas. The “Egotist Network” is in 15 markets across the country and is a great way to find out about local markets. To keep your creative juices flowing, sign up for Liquid Treat/Media Bistro. Just do a Google/Bing search for the topics you’re interested in and you’re sure to pull up a long list of resource sites and inspiration.
The use of social media by photographers seems to be expanding, especially on Facebook and LinkedIn. Even if you don’t use them for active promotion, not being on present on those sites may be conspicuous by absence. Apps like Twitter and Instagram are also great ways to follow people and trends without appearing to be a stalker.
Be sure you understand the etiquette of using the various social media forms before you jump in. Friending a client on Facebook then sending them a message asking them for a portfolio showing is not a good idea. Also understand what you can and cannot share on these sites. Your client may not appreciate you sharing those behind-the-scenes snapshots of your recent shoot, especially if the campaign hasn’t run yet.
So the moral of the story is to learn from Old Dogs and from New Dogs, and to embrace traditional media methods while exploring new marketing tactics.
Kat Dalager is an Old Dog that loves to learn new tricks.
[by John Welsh]
How are we supposed know what direction to launch ourselves when we are facing an industry that evolves each time we blink? The idea of Making Great Images will always apply. That’s what makes us professional, it’s a given and one of the reasons you are reading this post.
So, maybe during your latest shoot, you created this brilliant set of images for the coolest client. Where are those images going to be seen and by whom? Besides your client’s intended audience, can your work go viral and reach outside of it’s intended space proving you are on the edge that bleeds? Potential clients notice these things. Or are you going to be selling yourself like a celebrity and be hired as the guest Instagrammer at a hipster media event? What about producing short videos that find themselves on Social Media the same day they were shot? How about making images for those really distracting Digital Billboards that light up the Interstates? What about revisiting 360 degree VR or better yet, creating Cinemagraphs? Maybe your work crosses another border and falls under the SAG-AFTRA New Media Agreement regarding digital distribution? Too many questions and not enough answers? Yep, that’s the intention.
Some of these scenarios may be familiar, but even if they are foreign, your Oldest School clients, the ones that think in Jurassic, will eventually be replacing their marketing & communication directors, or people that act as their art buyers or they’ll create newly titled positions that haven’t even been thought of yet. One thing for sure, the new blood (aka, your future clients) will understand how to reach the Digital Generation.
How about this? Rather than study the market you are trying to reach, perhaps it’s best to become the market you are trying to reach. Constantly read about every visual trend. If you haven’t Smartphoned yourself, just go buy one (as well as a tablet – you’ll need both). Use Social Media to connect and communicate. Imagine the ways your work can be used, especially in ways that aren’t conventional (we don’t want to be viewed as Jurassic either) so when that call, email or text message comes, you’ll be able to exceed your client’s expectations.
[by Jenna Close]
Until fairly recently, the bulk of my business came by way of clients from the solar industry. Then, two things happened that forced me to change my way of thinking. First, the solar market bubble completely burst. Many of my clients went bankrupt or were swallowed up by larger corporations, and the personal relationships I had developed disappeared as the parent companies appointed new leadership. Second, everyone that survived intact reacted by tightening their purse strings. Inevitably they sought cheaper (or in some cases free) options for their photographic needs. This really sucked at the time, but it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I needed to immediately consider new markets in order to survive. Truthfully, if I had been actively thinking ahead I would have been doing this all along.
The first thing I did was make a plan. I identified which markets I was interested in (in this case, high end industrial clients), and researched their art buying methods. While the solar industry was primarily a B2B marketplace, many of my new target companies used ad agencies. They hired photographers skilled in managing large productions and a lot of their ad campaigns involved composites or significant post-production. They also relied heavily on video, and most of the photographers whose work embodied what I was aiming for also had motion represented on their websites.
The second thing I did was start putting together a body of work that represented the kinds of jobs I wanted to book. I began learning video and working on some personal motion projects (many of which will never see the light of day). Because this was a new area for me, I also researched contacts I could hire if the video request was outside the scope of my comfort range. That way I could do my best not to leave money on the table or be unprepared to provide what appeared to be a common need for that particular market.
Third, I began targeting clients and finding ways to meet them in person. A few local portfolio reviews were a useful start, after which I felt I had gained enough insight to request meetings with other agencies that seemed like a good fit. I still believe that even with all the myriad tools for getting your work out there, nothing is as potent as a face to face conversation. It has always had the highest rate of return for me.
So far, the change has been positive. Motion has made up about 40% of my work this year (compared to 0% two years ago) and the projects I am booking are right in line with my goals. My only regret is that I didn’t start thinking this way BEFORE it was absolutely necessary. The lesson I learned from this experience is that even if you are comfortable where you are, thinking in broad terms about the future is imperative. Rapid change is the new normal and constantly playing catch-up is difficult. Reacting to circumstances that are already happening can be necessary, but getting into the habit of innovative thinking is best.
Jenna Close is a solar energy…er…industrial photographer in San Diego, CA.