A few weeks ago, I was in town and I heard a lady say to her friend “That photo you posted of Sebastian was soooooo beautiful. While you’re on maternity leave, you should totally start doing photography as a business…”. Before I write anything else, I just want to say that this is exactly the kind of thing that my friends would tell me a few years back. And it’s lovely when your friends encourage you to pursue your passion and turn it into a business. But in my experience, starting any kind of business isn’t something that you should decide to do on a whim!
Why artists need to market themselves? So that, you the artist, wouldn’t starve to death.
No, but seriously. Otherwise, you risk ending up like Vincent Van Gogh who (in the words of Steven Pressfield) “produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life.”
A lot of artists have this notion that they’re the creative person, and marketing belongs to the business world. Some even think it’s evil or dirty to promote themselves, and they don’t want to have anything to do with this” filthy” world.
The truth is, it’s your job to market yourself. You are the artist, and you know how to spread the word about your work. After all, you created it. You can’t rest after creating your art; you need to start marketing it.
Making a career out of photography requires so much more than your talent: interpersonal and business skills, constant learning, and time management skills, to name just a few. In this video from The Art of Photography, Ted Forbes discusses three things that I think are in common for everyone who wants to be commercially successful or recognized as a photographer. Regardless of the skills, knowledge and the talent you own, these are three things you should (and shouldn’t) do if you want to succeed.
Here is why (I think) you shouldn’t sell your files in bundles!
Doing IPS (In Person Sales) does not mean that you cannot sell your files – but it does mean you shouldn’t be giving them away as a Shoot and burn photographer (S&B). And now some of the S&B’ernes will object, they are not giving them away, they are selling them as an all inclusive package!
The S&B’s I know, are priced from 60-180£ (67€/70$-200€/220$) for a CD/USB/Download with 5-30 files included. And this is telling your clients that your images has almost no value. For the client it looks like they are only paying for your time, not the art you create.
If we break the numbers down, depending on your CODB (cost of doing business), best case scenario, you will make somewhere around 20-25£ pr image – worst case scenario – 2£ pr file (!!). Do you really, deep in your heart, believe your art should be sold that cheap?
… and how you can do the same (no matter what country you are in)!
A little backstory: I have been a full time professional photographer for close to 9 years. My passion is weddings – I have done more than a 100 weddings, and I still cry when they say yes. For the first 7 years of my carrier I was a starving artist. I did lots of weddings (and families, and children, and events, and corporate, anything that came my way, really) – I worked worked and worked – always trying to book the next client – my portfolio was full, my calendar was full, I was a popular choice when people got married, had babies or having their family portraits done.
The truth is, however, I would have made more money working the cashier at the local fast food joint – and would even have worked less! So I decided I needed a change – I needed a fair pay for my work, I am a damn good photographer, why shouldn’t I get paid for my time and talent? So I started reading and stumbled across “In Person Sales” (IPS) for photographers. I saw people writing about making thousands – on a single client. I didn’t really believe in it – and yeah, maybe it worked in America – but here, in Denmark? No way! Everyone wants the CD (or if you are really trendy, the USB). I believed the same lie I have been telling clients for years; “You want the CD right?” WRONG!
Happy New Year!
Every January, I try to refocus my photography business ambitions for the coming year, so in my first post of 2014, I thought I’d share my top three photography business resolutions for 2014.
There is a certain art form to a successful pitch. But it can be broken down into three basic steps.
Disclaimer: Before you read this article be warned that I am going to give you some powerful tips that could be turned to the dark side. If you think that you might be tempted to dabble in the Dark Arts, remember:
“With great power comes great responsibility”.
Stan Lee via Uncle Ben
Image Credit: Ztephenx on Deviantart – Creative Commons
As an artist and as an entrepreneur, you need to actively position your photography business to work with as many high quality, profitable clients as possible.
That may seem a little obvious, but it is actually a lot harder than it sounds.