Thursday, July 24, 2014
A lot of you reading this blog are part time photographers. That means a lot of you are working on a shoestring budget. So, you attempt to promote and market your studio STRICTLY via your website which is affordable if you can do it yourself, and via Social Media because it is free. You spent days...maybe even WEEKS...creating web pages and galleries on your website. You put in HOURS and HOURS posting, blogging, Tweeting, getting Facebook "Likes" pinning on Pinterest, making friends on Google+...
...and now you wonder why you have only photographed 12 seniors through the end of July. Well, I am going to tell you why:
Because Social Media marketing by itself sucks big time.
Let's first of all take a look at your web site. I have seen some web sites by photographers here in my home town that are sad. Laughable, really. My pro friends often say, "You need to come out of retirement...the photographers in your area are BAD!" Well, they make a point. Understand this, friends: unless photography is a hobby, a BAD website is worse than NO website. It can make you a laughing stock and make you look silly, unprofessional and incompetent.
Not all of the photographers in my home town are bad, however. Take a look at StudioOne. Operated by Kurt Robertson, M.Photog CPP in the former Byerly's Studio location, his website is totally professional. It was done by Marathon Press. Yes, it cost him some money. But it puts Kurt at the top of the heap in his market. It shows off his talent as an excellent photographer, and it puts the competition to shame...nobody is even close.
Marathon Press has simple sites that start at $99. However, you must purchase hosting from them. The downside is that their hosting is on the expensive side. Even their LOWEST cost package of web hosting is $24.95 per month or $215 if you pay for one year up front...ouch! By comparison, I pay less than $50 for three years for shared web hosting at HostMetro, which is fine for my low traffic site (after 3 years that price WILL increase). On the plus side, Marathon will provide you with limited support; good if you are not a "techie." You'll have to weigh the pros and cons.
If you cannot afford that kind of money, then at least go to Fiverr and find someone who can do a site for you that won't make you the object of ridicule.
However, the best website in the world will not bring you customers if they do not know about it! That's why you have to do SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to keep your site near the top in your category. Again, check Fiverr for people who will do this for you inexpensively.
Then are are some low tech, low cost ways to drive traffic to your website. Here are a couple techniques I used:
Go to the print shop. Have them print a foldover that is business card sized. The front and back of the outside have printed on them a $50 bill (you are not reproducing this at actual size, so it is permitted). On the inside, put your business info and your URL in bold, with some offer that sends them to the site. Drop these in the lobby at movie theatres, at the mall, stick them in newspapers at the newstand (you may have to drop $5 on the clerk to have him or her look the other way)...any place that has a lot of foot traffic.
Print a color business card (Vistaprint is cheap and fast). Use a color image on one side (create one card for kids, one for families, one for engagements, one for weddings, etc.). When you go to ANY restaurant, leave MORE than the average tip. Most people tip 10-18%; make sure you tip 25%, AND leave one of your cards with the tip.
Print a small classified ad in the local shopper that says, "You will see Yourtown's most beautiful people at www.yourstudio.com!"
Finally, in every direct mail piece, include your URL prominently.
What's that? You are not doing direct mail? Silly rabbit! Check back often, because we are going to be talking about that next. Until we meet again, may all your PHOTOGRAPHY be FOR INCOME!