Marketing your photography business in 2016 doesn't have to be expensive if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease.
Be it coincidence or circumstance, my friend, Miguel Quiles, and I are both from a very small area in Orlando, Florida, and we both worked in corporate America long before we became photographers. After that, we both found ourselves smack dab in the middle of New York City in one of the most competitive photography markets in the nation for different reasons.
Now, while Miguel ran a portrait photography business in Orlando, I had no such experience. In fact, I’m actually a college dropout. Photography was something that I never considered a sustainable career. I always dreamed of having my own office in New York, working in an awesome suit, making an amazing salary.
So, with dreams of grandeur, I moved to New York City with about $200 in my pocket on January 18, 2007. On January 21, I had my first interview. On January 23, I started my first day at work, making $45,000 per year. By 2012, my job title was Regional Sales Manger at a private company. I worked my butt off and was getting ahead in life. I was 22 years old, and thought I’d conquer the world. Then, I got laid off.
That left me with a couple of options: suck it up and find a new job or commit to photography and try to make it.
Fortunately, I had a great mentor. I had a chance to see exactly how the business functioned and how to make a living as a creative. What I quickly realized was that everything financially successful photographers did was exactly the same thing that any successful businessperson would do. They did the grunt work, put in the hours, and even used the same marketing tactics.
So, why should you care?
I think many aspiring photographers strive to get agency representation without knowing what agencies actually do. It’s essentially like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner: Once they get it, what actually happens? In short, photo agents operate your sales, marketing, and scheduling and negotiate on your behalf. Unfortunately, most photographers will never have the chance to ever sit down with a photo agent. As a matter of fact, most of the photographers who operate FStoppers run successful photography businesses without photo agents. It is absolutely possible to be a successful photographer without a photo agent if you’re willing to put in the hours, and you’re smart about your time.
Miguel and I have both worked in corporate America, we both have had some experience working in sales, and we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. At the end of the the day, we’re both willing to put in the hours. We were both able to establish our photography businesses based on some old marketing principles: cold calls, flyers, and physically visiting our clients. Remember that everyone is sending emails these days; we’ve just adopted old methods of marketing in order to separate ourselves from the masses, and it’s worked for us. The video above explores three reasons along with some tips on how we’re able to market our photography businesses in 2016.
If you're looking for ways to market your business on a budget, look no further: