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Quote: The trouble is no one seems to pay no matter what I produce!
I've just been to your profile page and own website, and as LeftForum says, you don't need to learn anything about photography. Certainly, not where landscapes are concerned! Some truly exceptional work there.
Business is business, and that would appear to be the area you desperately need to work on. The other area, if I may be so bold, is confidence. Not only do you need to be confident in your skills as a photographer, but you also need to be confident in yourself... in all aspects. There is one sure fire way to boost your skills in this area... and that is to become a salesman! In the short term, I would look into gaining some sort of sales training. You will be very surprised how many of those skills you can apply to almost every aspect of life.
I wouldn't work with that particular photographer again. Use the pictures you've taken as the start of a portfolio. Do work with other photographers though. Don't just shoot pictures, but observe how the main photographer works. Again, use the shots as stock for your own portfolio. Then, find your own style. Gaining live experience shooting weddings without the pressure of being the main photographer, with shots you can use in your own portfolio, isn't necessarily a bad deal.
But do think carefully about limiting how much you do for free! How can you expect a customer to pay for any work you do, if you feel it is of sufficient value to be given away for free?
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Quote: Thanks all. Lots for me to think about.
Im not a businessman, I give to much if myself and too much away. The trouble is no one seems to pay no matter what I produce!
If I have to become greedy and selfish to succeed, then I guess I'm going to fail.
I've just seen your wedding site "Focal Perfection" and I am sorry julian I was taking this from the assumption that you had just started out, opps my mistake.
Your site looks very professional, and I can see you've certainly got your marketing skills well honed, so I will duck out of giving you any more advice as you clearly streets ahead of anything I could add to and do not need more of that.
Hope business picks up for you.
( still am a bit baffled as to why you agreed to do so much helping to your friend ? you certainly did not need the practice, you work is lovely )
In this, as in a number of other recent threads, it has become apparent that some very good photographers have a problem with marketing their services.
Here is an extract of a Forum Post I wrote on the Lulu.com users forum a couple of years ago, giving marketing advice to new authors who had written books and then complained that they did not sell.
If, throughout this posting, you change the word "books" into "freelance photography services", then it may begin to make some sense. Especially as some freelancers seem to rely upon their website to generate business, the ideas for driving traffic to their website may be useful and have some parallels to their own endeavours:
Marketing Guide for Your Lulu Books – Part 1
09-14-2010 06:36 PM
Marketing Guide for Your Lulu Books – Part 1
One of the most common type of question on the Forum concerns marketing books that have been published using the Lulu service. I have answered different questions in different ways over the years, but here is an attempt to pull everything together. If Lulu has a way of “pinning” this thread to the top of the Forum, that could be useful.
I have called it “Part 1” because I can only deal with the marketing of specialist non-fiction books. Hopefully someone else can contribute a “Part 2” dealing with fiction and other non-practical subjects like poetry.
The first key to successful marketing is that the book must be marketable. What I mean by this is that:
(a) There is a commercial demand for a book on the subject and that demand is not already fully met by currently published books.
(b) The proposed book has some unique features that make it different from existing books on the subject.
(c) The writer has established credibility as a recognised authority in the field or can quickly establish such credibility.
(d) The book is well written. Spelling, grammar and syntax are extremely important. You might get away with “unusual” sentence construction if you are writing a novel and your name is Steinbeck, but not in a non-fiction book. (Just a wee tip here: Proof reading is crucial but do not attempt to proof-read your own writing. It just doesn’t work. Get someone else to do it for you. As some will have noticed, I cannot even proof-read my own Forum posts before clicking the “submit button”!)
I appreciate that some folk reading this may already have a book almost ready for publication. If you don’t yet quite meet the above criteria, I would suggest being patient and getting the marketability of your proposed book set up before publishing it and trying to market it.
To my mind, the best way of doing this is to write some articles on your specialist subject and submit them to a number of magazines in your topic area. There are three advantages to this:
1. The editors of established magazines (and I mean the glossies you see every month on the newsstands) are probably the best people to give an indication that your work is up to scratch. They will also give advice if you perhaps need to make some changes to style or approach.
2. Having a number of articles published in prestigious magazines is a way of getting your name known in the field and gaining credibility for your work.
3. When you do publish your book, the editors of the magazines that you write for are likely to give favourable reviews of your book and may even allow you to plug it in one of your articles.
I was lucky. I started writing articles for several national magazines in the UK in the 1970s on two specialist subjects – wildfowling and gundog training. After a few years of regular magazine articles, a book publisher approached me and asked me to write a book about wildfowling (“Modern Wildfowling”). Over the next 20 years I had five books published by major book publishers and had written over 2,000 articles for a range of national magazines.
So, by the time that I “discovered” Lulu four or five years ago, my name was fairly well known amongst the country sports community in the UK. Now I don’t suggest that you wait 20 years before publishing a book. But taking maybe six months to a year to establish a regular pattern of publication in magazines could make the eventual marketing of your book a more realistic proposition.
Right. Let’s get on with a marketing strategy. For this purpose I am going to take a specialist subject that I know a little about but that I would never consider myself sufficiently knowledgeable about to write a book on the subject. That way, I’ll try to make myself think outside my own immediate comfort zone. By doing that, I’ll have to use some of the creativity that you will need to apply in your own chosen subject area.
You need to think about marketing before you even complete your book. The title must clearly describe the content. Clever cryptic titles are totally counter-productive in terms of marketing. So I will change the provisional title of my imaginary book from “Snapping Animals” to “Top Tips for Wildlife Photographers”. I also need to have a preface or introduction in the book written by a national “name” in the field. In preparation for publishing the book I have had eight articles about photographing birds and animals published in “Practical Photography”, “Amateur Photographer” and “Digital Camera” magazines. The editor who has been the most helpful and friendliest has been the man at “Digital Camera”, so I will send him a draft of my manuscript and ask him if he would do me the honour of writing a few paragraphs of preface. He might also give me some tips about errors or omissions in what I have written.
Lulu is only possible because of computer technology and the internet. Fortunately we can use the same technologies to do our marketing at no cost. My first step is going to be to set up four websites:
The first is going to be a straightforward photograph gallery featuring my very best wildlife photographs, including some of those that I used to illustrate my magazine articles. Most photo-editing software, that any serious photographer will have (e.g. Adobe Lightroom), will have a module for setting up flash galleries for the web. This website is to establish my excellence in the field. No-one is going to buy a book about photography unless the author has demonstrated that he takes superb photographs.
The second website will be an online photographic magazine about wildlife photography and the third website will be an online discussion forum for photographers. I’ll use some free service such as Yuku for the latter. Those two sites will be linked in that the forum will be seen as an adjunct to the magazine and, in time, I’ll invite some of the more credible contributors to the forum to write articles for the magazine.
The fourth website, once my book has finally been published, will be a series of straightforward pages advertising the book and giving links to all the places it can be bought (Lulu, Amazon, Kindle, etc). With this website, in particular, I will make sure that all the metatags are in place to optimise the indexing by Google and other search engines. Importantly, this website will not “go live” until I know that my books are in the online catalogues of Amazon, which will be my main seller of printed books. Lulu will probably be the place to which I direct potential customers who want to purchase downloads and e-books.
All of those websites will be linked to one another so that internet users who find one are channelled towards the others.
Remember that it takes time for traffic on websites like this to build up. For them to become effective marketing tools, they need to be getting thousands of “hits” every day; not just a few dozen. That will take a few years. Sorry – but there are no shortcuts. In fact, by the time I write my next book on some more advanced aspects of wildlife photography in three years time, my four websites should be reaching maturity and have a regular clientele. The stage that I want to reach is that is someone enters the keywords “wildlife photography” and “book” or “magazine” or “forum” into Google, the links to my websites will be in the top half of the first page of results.
Of course, in the meantime, I will be following other avenues to publicise my book. I will purchase a few copies to send, with a press release, to the three magazines that publish my photography articles and I will send the press release, containing links to all my websites and to the Amazon pages for the book, to the editors of all the other photographic magazines in the country and to the national and local newspapers. Don’t expect too much from those press releases – but they don’t cost anything and might just bring another sale or two.
Now I am going to use other internet services to gain publicity, always with links to my own four websites. There are at least a dozen photographic discussion forums apart from my own, and I am going to become active on all of them. I am going to place some of my photographs on Flickr. Using the digital video facility of my SLR camera I will make a 3-minute video summarising my book, again showing my best photographs, and put it on YouTube. And I will try to build up big followings on Twitter and Facebook where I will regularly plug my book.
Once my book has been published, is readily available from Amazon, and has received at least one very positive review in one of the national photographic magazines I am now writing for on a regular basis, I will make up a list of associations and societies who might like a speaker on my subject at one of their meetings – camera clubs, nature groups, etc. Hopefully they now know my name from the magazines and a few will accept my offer to come and speak to them. I’ll take along one copy of my book but most certainly will not take along a pile of copies to sell at the meetings. Most people hate pushy salesmen and, anyway, buying copies of one’s own book to resell is a mug’s game. Far better simply to hand out flyers at the meetings letting people know where they can buy it.
That all seems a lot of work but, at least, it has not cost me anything other than my own time and a few pounds (dollars) a year for the domain names for my websites. I wonder how many sales of my first book I can expect? If I have really done the marketing well, perhaps sales will grow from zero to 10 copies a month over the first year. Hopefully, as my name and my websites get better known, that might rise to 20 copies a month by the end of Year 2 and to 50 copies a month by the end of Year 3. Amazingly, over the three year period, that could add up to maybe 700 copies sold. Not bad for a first book by a previously unknown author.
The even better news is that, in three years, when I am ready to publish “More Top Tips for Wildlife Photographers”, my marketing infrastructure will already be in full swing and my sales should build up two or three times faster than with my first book.
Returning to the real me, one of the greatest feelings I ever got came from a spam e-mail that I got from Amazon a couple of weeks ago. I had bought a book on another aspect of country sports and Amazon’s marketing department had picked up on the fact and used that to send me a message saying, “You bought this book. Here are some other books that may interest you.” And right at the top of their list of recommendations was one of my own Lulu titles. That felt good.
Good luck with your own project.
Books about Gundog Training and Wildfowling
Not speaking from experience in photography, but perhaps generally in IT consulting.
State you rate clearly and up front on your website, maybe get a 2nd section/site for weddings.
Then everyone knows your worth including you - if you do six hours and thats £600 quid, then everyone knows you've done them a £600 quid favour - not a favour for free/experience. You can 50% discount initial shoots, but you are still worth £600 even if you only get £300.
You know you take great photos, so now get a fair price for them then no one will be taking advantage of anyone.
Don't rush to give up your day job yet though, until you prove you can run a business you should not risk it for those dependant on you.
It was only because of L VanDhal's comment earlier that I was able to find your own web site for weddings! That in itself tells you that you need to promote it more! From what I've seen, and from what you've said, the areas you need to build your skills in are sales, promotion, and business acumen!
How can I promote it though? I've spent hundreds on advertising, Facebook ads, google Adwords etc, all to no avail. I'm so put off by it all I've just turned down yet another company that want the best part of £100 to help put my sure on google page 1.
In tired of everyone else making money off me while I make nothing.
I did go to the extra exigences to split my other work from my weddings, by paying for another website. But that hasn't helped, and I've just looked at an atrocious tog in Cambridgeshire who has a huge client list and mixes photography of all sorts on his appalling website.
I just don't get it, and after a couple if years now I'm losing the will to keep trying.
I don't believe advertising is cost effective, I don't believe wedding fayres are worthy either. Have you tried putting yourself in a couples position, more so the bride. Where do they go first? And its not venue hunting. They buy an engagement ring. Why don't you market your services at all the jewellers in your area, offer a complimentary engagementshoot for shop to offer. I guarantee you will get 99% of all couples using you plus the shops will love it. You need to think differently, you do not need to spend much at all - but you do need to network and offer something that's a win win for everyone.
Thanks, I like the idea, but what do the shop get out of it? They already have the price of the ring?
I'll give it some thought, I like it thanks
I don't pay wedding assistants.
I never really "need" a second shooter, though having someone to carry my stuff is handy.
I used a recent graduate on my last couple of weddings - the earlier one helped her with her course work (they need some kind of evidence of experience). She went on to get a first - which was nice.
I bought drinks and a whatever else was needed (pork scratchings )
I used quite a few shots in the book - which she was delighted about. Didn't sell any prints over her work - or mine actually, miserable Yorkshire types If they'd asked for prints of hers I'd have been delighted to give her the proceeds - what a lovely thing to be able to do!
How much networking do you do Jules?
All the things you've listed up there have earned me £0 too - networking is far more effective.
Depends what you want to do though - I'm not aiming at weddings... got 0 booked in 2013 - more interested in commercial work, get in, get out, get paid - bish bash bosh, job done. Not this long drawn out "walking on eggshells" palava of weddings
Quote: networking is far more effective.
100% agree with that. Word of mouth can't be beaten. I have a friend who does weddings and doesn't advertise anywhere, he just seems to get work by recommendation. He's not that good either. I've also just picked up a couple of new clients both from verbal recommendations.
Totally agree Ade, and this evening the tog has offered to pay me for any prints he sells from my images, which is kind of him; I guess he may have been reading?
I agree, it is unusual to pay an assistant, but in this instance I did a lot of work and freely handed over all my finished images, when requested, so I saved him lots of editing etc. I think its just been a **** day and Im feeling sorry for myself a bit. I do need to network for sure, and I thought I had been, along with some advertising. Obviously more is needed?
Quote: Thanks, I like the idea, but what do the shop get out of it?
I think this is a great idea too. My job is helping retail businesses to try and increase their profitability and sales, so I'll add to this.
In today's society everything has become so price focused a lot of the independent jewellers may be looking for an edge, something to differentiate themselves to the mass chain stores of H Samuels and the like. Because in reality they can't compete on price. So what they will do is to try and make it memorable for the buyer. They will try and offer a service rather than just a product. When we bought my now wife's engagement ring, they made a fuss of her, they also offered to clean her jewellery whenever she wants and plied us with plenty of fresh coffee. We are now 12 months on from the wedding and she hasn't been back once to have the ring cleaned, but between engagement and wedding she was in there every few months. Oh and to prove the point about offering a service rather than matching price to generate future business. Guess where we bought the wedding rings from. That's right and it was all because they created a memorable experience when we bought the engagement ring.
So getting back to the point, what's in it for them. Well a way to separate themselves from the competition by adding more value to their brand and product and therefore able to justify the higher price. An ability to create a memorable experience for the bride, (it is all about them, the groom simply nods and hands over the credit card, win over the bride, you have access to the Visa card) and hopefully bring in future sales.
What's in it for you, we'll hopefully wedding bookings also possible picture sales from the complimentary shoot. My suggestion would be offer a free shoot along with maybe a couple of prints, that makes them come back to see the results. Once they are back and struggling to decide which ones they like best, you turn on the sales patter
Thanks, I will give itsome thought
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