Step by Step: Getting Your Name Out There
Over the years I’ve met and talked with thousands of professional photographers. One of the questions that comes up on a regular basis, especially with new photographers, relates to getting your name out there. A few of these I’ve written about before, but let’s see if we can come up with a list of projects to help you get started.
• Decorate the doctor’s office: I’ve been talking about this one for years. How much money do you or did your parents spend on doctor bills, especially with the pediatrician? Well it’s time for payback! The last class doctors takes before getting out of medical school is about decorating their office. They’re taught to not spend more than $50!
Think about your last doctor visit. There wasn’t much on the walls of the waiting room, unless your doc was a high-end neurosurgeon and then maybe they had a few Ansel Adams posters! So, here’s a great idea and it’s perfect for the pediatrician.
Offer to put some images on the walls of the reception area! Kids, family portraits, anything with a sense of children. Then in the corner, on the table next to that 1984 copy of Popular Mechanics put a stack of your business cards or brochures.
Here’s the deal – women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer. Who takes the kids to the doctor’s office? It’s Mom and she’s sitting there bored, with nothing to read. This is about the subliminal message you can plant with a few well done family and children’s portraits!
• Restaurants and coffee shops: They all need help, especially if you’re a regular customer. Helen Yancy told a group of photographers at Summer School about getting started at a local Coney Island restaurant in her area just by decorating the walls of the restaurant with her images.
• Meet and Greet: Take a couple of days and just wander around your local business area. Get to know the neighborhood and introduce yourself. Local businesses, sooner or later, have imaging needs and you want to let them know you’re there.
• Start your own network luncheon. Contact everyone in the area who has something in common with your target audience. Find an inexpensive diner type restaurant and get together once a month for lunch just to talk about what’s going on in the community.
• Get involved in your community! With or without a camera in your hand, get involved with the people you’re looking to support your business. Join Kiwanis, Rotary, Exchange Club etc.
• Do your own fundraiser! Vicki Taufer did one of the very first pet days in her area three years ago and today she’s one of the best known pet photographers in her community. She tied in with the local animal shelter, but you can set up a fundraiser with any organization.
• Is there a local children’s store? It’s another great one from Vicki Taufer, who when she was first starting, did all the children’s portraits of the clerks and owner of the local children’s clothing shop. They all became her ambassadors.
• Develop promotions and advertise! I know it’s obvious, but this is the first one in the list that will actually cost you some money, but you have to have a plan. If you think you can get away with running just one ad and then waiting to see the results, think again. You need to have consistency in your timing and in the placement/location of the ad.
• Cross-promote with other vendors. It’s easiest to explain within the wedding category, but essentially you’re going to give a discount certificate to any bride for the local florist and the florist is going to give the bride a certificate for something from you, but try and stay away from discounting. Give an hour of extra coverage or an addition 8×10 – go for added value rather than price reductions.
• Contact the PTA at the local schools. Isn’t it time we upgraded the bake sale concept? How about offering family sittings for a holiday card shot. It’s only September and you’ve got time to work with any local association or group and have an image in people’s hands in time for their holiday cards.
• Career Day and Adult Education: All of you are qualified to do a career day at the local school and help motivate an interest in photography with kids. Many of you are also qualified to teach an adult education class on photography. This is about getting involved in the community and don’t forget to do a press release to the local paper with a picture of you interacting with the participants at each event.
• Enter photo contests and competitions. Most of the national associations have some level of print competition. Local chapters have regular print competition as well as portfolio reviews. This is a great way to get feedback outside your immediate circle of family and friends.
It’s not costly to get your name out there, but it is labor intensive. This is where outsourcing comes into play. By not doing everything yourself you can find the time to market your personality and skill set. Your time is best spent getting to know your client base rather than sitting behind a computer editing images!