Redeye's Marketing Coordinator, Jo Slack, shares her marketing tips for photographers and artists in 2015.
1. Think about yourself as a business
If you’re reading this post, I’m hoping it’s fair to assume you intend to sell your work/services this year. In the rest of the article, I’ll share my marketing tips that aim to give you a better chance of achieving that goal. But before I do so, it's important that you identify yourself as a business, and believe that your work/services are sellable. It sounds silly, but many artists/photographers are reluctant to do so. There is nothing wrong with making a living as an artist/photographer (quite the opposite) and understanding yourself as a business will give you that competitive edge.
2. Identify your audience
Before you put any marketing in place, it is essential to work out who your audience is. This allows you to tailor your campaigns and gives a strategic edge to your marketing, allowing for a better chance of success. Think about your ideal client: what age are they? Where do they live? Where would they shop? What do they look at online? Once you’ve established who your audience is, you have a good basis to implement some marketing techniques, but do revisit it if you make any changes to your business. It might be helpful to think about your audience on a six-monthly basis. This way, you are able to work out if your targeted marketing is attracting the people you are expecting it to. If it isn’t, you can work to identify why and start planning your new campaigns around this.
3. Create your brand
If you truly understand your business and your ethos, so will your customers. As an individual artist/photographer, you are your brand. Establishing who you are as a photographer/artist, means your motives become transparent, evoking trust in potential clients. Many artists/photographers dislike the idea of branding, but it isn’t as corporate as it sounds. Branding is simply understanding exactly who you are and what you are doing. When considering your brand, ask yourself these questions. What is important to me? What makes me stand out from other photographers/artists? What do I have to offer? Try not to get too existential. Think in practical terms and come up with some clear, simple and honest answers that you are able to convey to potential clients. Use these answers to create an elevator pitch. Once you have established your brand identity, think about how you could represent this visually. Consider working with a designer to establish a visual identity that you can use online and in print. If you can’t afford an agency, seek out a local designer or recent graduate and create a mutually beneficial partnership (you could offer your photography services in return for their design services). Think about your brand identity in everything that you do. Allow it to inform your voice.
4. Consider your online presence
Think about your website as a physical space. This is the place that clients will most likely find you and learn about your business. What does it look like? Is it attractive to potential clients? Would users like spending time in it? Your website should be simple, clear and easy to use. Carefully select the work you put on your website. Consider all of these things and ask yourself if your website effectively represents your brand. Try to make it as visual as you can. Online users are spending less and less time on individual websites so don't make it difficult for them. Make sure your information is easily accessible and you work is clearly displayed. Think about everywhere else you are visible online and ask yourself the same questions.
5. Be clever with the use of online tools/techniques
Use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to increase your visibility online. SEO is the implementation of key terms into website content that increase the site's chances of appearing on different search engines and subsequently rank higher in online listings. To implement SEO, you need to understand what words/terms are most searched for and add these words in the text and heading of your content online. There are a wealth of articles online that explain SEO, and once you understand the process it is fairly easy to use. Have a read about it online and see if you implement SEO on your website. Take advantage of Google Local. If you haven’t already set your up a business page on Google +, do this first and then get your business verified to give your site higher ranking in local searches. Consider Google Ad Words, Facebook advertising and Twitter advertising. These aren’t for everyone but can be successful and not too costly if used effectively. Use Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to get an idea of the behaviour of your audience online. These are all free and can be extremely helpful for identifying what online content is working well for you. When using any online tools/techniques, do your research. Some are easier to use than you think and there are lots of articles online from independent parties who have tried and tested the techniques on their own business. If you find something that works for you, consider sharing it with other photographers to help to encourage this knowledge-share economy.
6. Use social media to your advantage
Social media can be incredibly daunting, and time-consuming, but it is easy to make it work for you. In my experience, it is more effective to concentrate on a small number of social media sites that you understand well, rather than creating an account with every site available just because it’s there. Remember that social media is a representation of your business, so it’s important that it doesn’t look unloved or disorganised. If you do have multiple accounts, don’t post the same content on each site. Try to think of original content that is tailored to each account. If you can’t, think about leaving the sites that aren’t working for you. But do make sure all of your accounts are linked so that if a potential client comes into contact with any of these accounts, they are able to easily find the work/services you have on offer. Have fun with social media, but do be considered with what you post online. Always think about your brand and try not to post anything that may damage it. Finally, don’t oversell. Try to adopt the 80/20 approach: for every 2 posts about your own work, post 8 more that are interesting content not directly related to what you are selling.
7. Use your mailing list
Make sure you have a mailing list. Keep adding to this wherever possible but make sure you have the individual’s permission. Don’t spam people, but send them an update when something interesting happens. The people on your mailing list should be people you have come into contact with and have shown some interest in what you do, therefore they will appreciate genuine information from you. When writing your emails, consider your tone of voice in relation to your brand. Remember who your audience is and try not to oversell. Finally, think about the look of your mail out. If you feel your mail out isn't working for you, try a different service provider. My favourite is Mailchimp, but there are lots of options out there.
8. Start writing
If you've got in a bit of a rut, or are just starting out and are finding it difficult to break the market, why not consider writing about photography? It's a great way to get your name out there and could even be beneficial for your practice. Start reviewing other photographer's work and get it published online. Having you writing published will not only increase your online presence, but will also directly promote your contact details on sites that potential clients are likely to visit. If you enjoy writing, consider starting a blog. You could write about your practice or just about things that interest you. Make sure it is linked to all of your other accounts online. A successful blog could be your key to getting noticed online. Redeye has recently started taking submissions for written content on photography so if writing is something you’re interested in, do get in touch.
Never stop networking. Networking might seem archaic and unnecessary, or just plain terrifying, but it shouldn’t be viewed as either. Networking is a valuable tool to meet new clients and get new work. In the words of our friend Jenny Gaskell from The Future, networking can be about being nice to people. You don't have to oversell, but instead see it as a chance to chat to new people and share your passion with others. Get your elevator pitch prepared and always jump on opportunities to sell yourself to potential clients. Try to attend events where you’ll meet new people with similar interests. If you’re really stuck for work, consider working for free for a charity or local business and use it as a valuable networking opportunity.
10. Enjoy yourself
Marketing can seem unnatural, scary, unrealistic, fruitless and downright impossible sometimes, especially in a market with so much competition. The good news is that there are lots of options out there, most of which are completely free. As a photographer or artist, you have a wealth of marketing tools at your fingertips. Find what works for you and enjoy it. Once you’ve established your brand and your audience, the rest is just practice. Best of luck for a successful 2015!