Barter Your Way to Marketing Success


One of the fundamental truths in the photography business is that everyone (and I do mean everyone) needs pictures. They might need pictures to advertise their business, or they might need pictures to remember an important life event, or they might need pictures simply to appreciate their beauty. Whatever the reason, there is always a need.

Photographers are fortunate to be on the supply side of this supply-and-demand equation. The universal demand for photography means that photography can be substituted for monetary currency more often than you might think. And wouldn’t you rather barter your services than open your wallet?

Trading Photography for Advertising

One of the most successful marketing strategies I have employed in my business is to advertise weddings and engagement sittings in a local weekly paper. The cost for these advertisements is too much for me — if I were to pay out of pocket. So instead of compensating the publisher in dollars, I pay in photography.

For the last five years, I have worked on contract with the paper in exchange for advertising space. It’s a great deal for me — and for them. I get to exercise my editorials skills (which I don’t otherwise currently have an outlet for), and the paper benefits with better than average photographs for its readers to enjoy. The paper has even won a few awards for my photography.

A Small Price for Referrals

Spending photography like money doesn’t stop there. In my line of work, florists, wedding venues, and even DJs need pictures to help them advertise their services. In this case, offering my services for free or at a discount is worth the marketing benefit — because it ensures high-value referrals from other wedding service professionals.

One of the most successful strategies I’ve employed is to build books specific to each vendor’s business. Asuka Book or Blurb books are perfect for this. And the response has been incredible.

By providing these businesses a high-quality tool to help sell their services — one they can’t wait to show off to wedding couples — I have secured their loyalty for many bridal seasons to come. And I’ve further established my brand in the marketplace. The proof, after all, is in the pictures.

As long as people need photos, photographers will have a magic credit card with an unlimited spending limit at their disposal. And the best thing is, you can spend it however you see fit. What ways can you think of to spend your photography that will help you further the goals of your business?

[tags]photography business, photography advice[/tags]


2 Responses to “Barter Your Way to Marketing Success”

  1. Great suggestions. Those entering into this profession can use this to really gain clients and make it a win win for everyone involved sometimes.

  2. When I first got started I offered a photography shoot and a few prints for a March Of Dimes fundraiser at work. A co-worker paid $40 to the fund, I produced for her 8 or 10 well done prints and gave her the disc. I didn't make a penny, in fact my time pretty much went to charity.

    But... I got 5 referrals through this co-worker... paying referrals. So... maybe a bit of service trading, maybe a bit of creative advertising. It certainly was worth it to give a little bit to charity.

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