[by Michael Clark]
Early on in my career, I created a one page printed Newsletter that I mailed out to 200 clients four times a year. This Newsletter served as a reminder to the photo editors and art buyers I regularly worked with that I was still available for assignments and also showed them what I had been up to recently. A few years after I started that Newsletter, I purchased the Adobe Creative Suite and started producing a larger full-blown PDF magazine (seen above) that I sent out to a larger set of clients. I also put it up on my website for free and let people know they could subscribe to the Newsletter by sending me an email.
The Newsletter contains editorials on various topics about the photo industry, stories from recent assignments, equipment reviews and much more. I try to include articles that I think photo editors might find interesting (so they will read it) and articles for the masses to help promote my brand beyond the photo industry. It has become a huge success and I have been producing the Newsletter for over ten years now.
It currently goes out to over 6,000 subscribers and 2,000 or more clients. The Newsletter was my first foray into self-publishing. If you are interested in how I use the Newsletter to market my photography check out an interview I did with Rob Haggart for aphotoeditor.com. Bake Discher also wrote a very flattering post about the Newsletter here on the Strictly Business blog (before I was a contributor).
In 2006, I was honored to shoot an assignment with Adobe producing images that would be used to promote the first version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. This assignment was also the result of my Newsletter as one of the CEOs of Adobe sent my Newsletter to all 5,000 employees of Adobe including those working on Lightroom. To work up the images I was taught how to use Lightroom by one of the Adobe engineers.
After spending so much time working with Lightroom, and spending years figuring out my digital workflow, I released my first e-book, entitled Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: A professional Photographer’s Workflow, in 2006. That e-book, now in it’s sixth edition, has ballooned to over 435 pages. It is an incredibly unique e-book, and unlike many e-books out there today, it is packed with exhaustive information. The digital workflow e-book offers information on critical topics like color management that you won’t find in any other books anywhere.
Amazingly, my first published printed book, Adventure Photography (Lark Photo Books), came to me as a result of my Newsletter. This is a good example of the power of self-publishing. My second printed book, Exposed: Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer, was also the result of my Newsletter. I have never actually submitted a book proposal to any publisher.
I am not saying any of this to brag by any means. I consider myself a mediocre writer at best. But through hard work I have been able to self-publish e-books and subsequently write traditionally published books due to my marketing efforts with the Newsletter. As you can tell, the Newsletter is, along with my website, the core of my marketing efforts. The reason I am presenting all of these self-published projects (the e-books and Newsletters) is that anyone can put these out into the world – all it takes is an understanding of Adobe InDesign and some hard work. The Newsletter for example takes approximately 40 hours to produce but I don’t work on it continuously. I put a little work into it over the course of a month or more.
As photographers these days, every year it seems like a few income streams dry up, and we have to figure out how to supplement our income via workshops, books, speaking engagements and through other opportunities. Self-publishing e-books has in the last seven years or more been a fairly lucrative way to diversify my income. Producing, designing and writing a decent quality e-book is obviously a lot of hard work. These aren’t easy products to create. Below you can see some screenshots of my two e-books and get a sense of how they are laid out.
I hope that these examples inspire you to think outside the box and to use self-publishing to further their careers. I certainly would not be where I am at today without my Newsletter. If you would like to check out my Newsletter you can download the Winter 2014 issue. If you would like to subscribe to my Newsletter please send me an email with your full name and indicating that you would like to subscribe.
Michael Clark is an internationally published adventure photographer and author. He has written two very popular e-books as well as two traditionally published books. You can find more information about all of his book offerings on his website. If you are dying for more info check out his Newsletter, which is a quarterly magazine that goes out to over 6,000 photographers and clients. See more of Michael’s work at www.michaelclarkphoto.com.