I get it! I’ve been there, and so has every other photographer who is now a professional. Marketing can sound like this big scary thing, but it doesn’t have to be. I have found that slow and steady wins the race in this one. There is no shortcut to everyone knowing who you are and wanting to work with you. I’ve started over in 4 different cities in two countries now, and there are the tips I found best to get your name out there.
Shoot a lot for practice and to gain connections, Facebook groups, Instagram and Model Mayhem are a great place to look for others to collaborate with. Maybe shooting for free isn’t what you intended, but you need to grow your skills and portfolio and experience is the best way to do it. You never know what connection will lead to a job, and as someone who has moved to 4 different cities and 2 countries, and pretty much had to start their business all over again each time, I can tell you having a network is KEY! If no one knows you exist, you won’t get work. Take projects that will be mutually beneficial to both of you and get you inspired. Don’t just shoot for the sake of shooting, do it with the intention to learn.
Practice learning how to direct, produce, collaborate with a team. Learn how to work with different types of light, and what lighting you prefer. Try new things and experiment. The further you progress into your career the harder it can be to experiment when you’re producing work for a client, so when you’re doing it for yourself take the opportunity! You need to pay your dues in every industry, and in photography, it’s really up to you how dedicated you are to furthering your craft and progressing.
Shoot as often as you can, as much as you can. There’s no shortcut to improving your skill except doing the work! I would recommend ingesting as much education on the topic as you can! Find your favourite photographers and learn from them, watch Youtube videos, there is so much free education out there!
The key to effective marketing is knowing your message! Figure out what you want to shoot. You may like shooting everything, but you can’t market yourself that way. Jack of all trades, master of none. If you want to create a business from photography, you need to find your niche and get really good at it. Weddings, portraits, landscapes, find your thing and get known for this. In the beginning, I absolutely think you should shoot everything you feel like shooting, but if you’re trying to create a business from your photography, you need to know what you do for who. For instance, say you have some kind of rare cancer, do you go to a GP or do you go to a specialist? You pick the person who has devoted their career to learning about that one thing in particular. Same with photography!
Social Media is your friend. This may seem obvious, but this is the main referral I get clients from so it’s well worth investing in starting this early. You don’t need to be on everything, but pick one medium and stick with it. Learn how to use hashtags and geotagging so you can be found by relevant people in your area. Learning how to use social media is kind of a whole other post entirely, and there’s a lot of really valuable courses out there that are worth investing in to get better at this!
No one like to hear this, but the key to marketing yourself is just being consistent and proactive over time. Knowing who you are and what you do and for whom are also key. This takes time to distil, and when you’re starting out I think it’s good to experiment with what feels like a good fit for you.
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