Ever look at the “Photographers” category in the AdWords of a Google Search? A lot of competition, isn’t there? What makes the difference then, between a “successful” photographer and a mediocre photographer? Talent is certainly necessary. So is energy, action, and desire. If we can assume that every photographer listed in an SEO search possesses all these attributes — don’t you question why some go farther than others?
At the risk of sounding simplistic, the answer lies in how well you promote yourself.
Without promotion, you leave yourself open to the mercy of chance. Sure, a few photographers are going to “make it” by sheer luck — the old ‘at the right place at the right time’ to get launched with the right clients. But the majority of photographers we have seen who are successful have made it because they figured out effective ways to promote themselves and their photography.
Here’s a simple way to promote yourself and it doesn’t cost you anything: You probably enjoy talking about what interests you most — your particular aspects and approaches to photography. Put that to use in getting yourself exposure and visibility. Become a speaker.
In the same online search that lists photographers, you can find a list of organizations, clubs, and associations. Each is always on the lookout for a program speaker. Let the program chairman know that you are available. In most cases, they’ll be happy to book you.
How do you get started? What should you speak about? As a photographer, you have a wealth of subject material available to you, because 90 percent of your audience fashions himself or herself as a photographer, too. (And with the proliferation of smart phones, no doubt are already always snapping pictures.) Your topics will revolve around what your main interests and experiences are, plus what you discern would be of interest and appropriate to your various audiences.
The How-To Approach
Basically you can build your speech around a how-to subject, like:
- “How to Take Pictures of Your Family”
- “How to Take Indoor Pictures”
- “How to Take Nature Pictures”
- “How to Take Exciting Vacation Pictures.”
Give your speech title this test: ‘Does my speech apply to my listeners?’ In other words, ‘Am I speaking about something that applies directly to them?’
One word of caution. Your listeners want to be entertained, not educated. They don’t want a lecture. If they did, they’d register at the local Adult Education Center. Tailor your speech so that it is entertaining. You’ll get audience response and this will aid you in refining your speech. Eventually, program chairpersons will seek you out.
And how does all this affect your photo marketing success? You’ll discover excellent spin-off from your public appearances. Assignments will come your way. Your name as a photographer will be catapulted ahead of equally talented photographers who are relying solely on conventional advertising or social media as their main form of promotion.
Another spin-off: If you find that you enjoy speaking, the field is wide open to you.
Payment? At first, charge nothing, except perhaps something to cover your out-of-pocket expenses such as babysitting, gas, etc. You be the judge in making this decision. At this stage of your speaking career, experience and exposure are what are valuable to you. The more experience you gain, the more you can charge for a speaking commitment. Eventually, you may want to promote your own seminars and workshops.
For some more tips and ideas for your speeches, check out the Writing Center. There you will find help on writing speeches, with advice on everything from proofreading to using quotes in your speech. For more information, call (919) 962-7710. And for good advice and good ideas, this newsletter will be helpful to your speaking career: Sharing Ideas. Send $2 for a sample copy to Dottie Walters, PO Box 398, Glendora, CA 91740; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.walters-intl.com.
[For more insights into how you can promote your work, see Chapter 10 of my book, Sell & ReSell Your Photos.]