Today's guest blot is by Shuva Rahim, a photographer in Eastern Iowa. Read her first post on Tiffinbox, “9 Tips For Clear & Consistent Client Communication.” When she's not focused on her photography business, she teaches businesses about how to effectively use social media. Follow her @shuvarahim.
Marketing IS never-ending. Some photographers are awesome at it, some aren't. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. But I know how to work hard and am not afraid to put myself out there. When I first proposed this post for Tiffinbox I was all gung-ho about it. I accidentally created a marketing “formula” without realizing it. Then after the first few drafts of this post I felt less certain, only to realize the only person who can expertly speak about my marketing is me. The following is what I did for one session. It's not the “right” way or the “wrong” way but it's my way. It hasn't made me millions (yet), but it's gotten me attention and free press and business … and allows me to create with a level of honesty, heart and love that fulfills me as an artist.
I introduced a new session last fall called Beloved, an unposed session aimed for longterm couples focusing on who they are instead of what they look like. I had been shooting Beloved-style since 2010, but it wasn't until 2011 I decided to really start promoting it. The marketing required a lot of thought, planning and time.
1. Promo video. After more than a year of photographing Beloved, I approached two different couples to photograph complimentary sessions, and hired a videographer. For me, this was a 6-month project (mostly because of scheduling). One of the sessions was videotaped and interviews were done with both. The end result was a short promotional video I was able to share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and my blog. You can watch it below:
2. Media outlets. Once I had the video, I contacted various media outlets in my area and used it to pitch a story about me and Beloved as a product that was unique and celebrated relationships. My first media exposure to this was a newspaper interview in November (about a month after releasing the video). The second was a live TV interview on Valentine's Day (four months after releasing the video). The more recent was a feature in a business newspaper (five months after the video). All these media exposures are free publicity, and I blogged about each one, and subsequently created a link on my blog showing the promo video along with the media exposure. Again, something I share multiple times on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. As a former reporter I knew media staff are busy. So if I didn't hear back I would followup.
3. Silent auctions. I created a 12×18 mount with a Beloved image, with my name and contact info on it. I provide that to whatever charity is holding a silent auction. In addition, I make a custom certificate (8.5×11 paper) laminated for each auction, in which the bid winner takes home. The certificate states a deadline – usually 10 days after the event – in which item must be validated. Validation for me means to contact me to set up an appointment. Every time I've had this strict time clause, the session has been validated. (A great tip I got from Sarah Petty's Joy of Marketing). Previously if I put a deadline of 6 months or a year, I got nothing.
4. Blogging. Blogging. Blogging. I was a newspaper reporter for 6 years prior to becoming a photographer, so this part was easy for me. However, it does require an immense amount of discipline. Not only do I blog my sessions, I blogged about my products. Before the promo video was done, I also blogged about the individual interviews we did with the couples. I also posted status updates on social media about the progress of the promo video before it was released. It was a way for me to tell people what I was working on and create anticipation. Since then, I blog about the silent auctions I'm participating in where Beloved has a presence.
5. Getting out there. Earlier this year I made a goal of connecting with at least 6 different people each day, Monday through Friday, whether they were already old contacts or new. I'll be the first to admit I've slacked off … some. But it's kept me on my toes, and in people's minds. To some degree, I consider myself a reserved individual. But I'm confident in my service and product, and I use that to leverage how I approach people. I've been in and out of various business groups since i started. Finding a good group of people you connect with takes time, much like building a relationship. But it's always about the other people, not you. Learn about everyone else, what makes them tick and what they like to do for fun. Then talk about you.
Marketing for Beloved is never “done”. In the end, as long as I believe in the experience and the product and love what I do, Beloved may very well be a longterm endeavor.
What steps are you taking to market your photography? Discuss below!