Ready to kick things into gear in 2019?
I love being transparent with what I’m working on. In this article, I’m going to share 7 key tactics that I’ll be focusing on this year to grow my business and brand.
Reach Out More
Throughout most of last year, I was fortunate enough to get plenty of work solely through word-of-mouth referrals.
Since photography is such a seasonal industry, client work tends to slow down quite a bit during the winter months. This past December, I decided to be more assertive and cold-contact as many local businesses as I could to market my services.
If the idea of doing this makes you die a little on the inside, keep in mind that -- like with anything else -- there’s a tactful and effective way to market yourself without coming across as sleazy or spammy.
I chose to DM most of my prospective clients on Instagram, since this is the easiest way to reach most people and it gives me a chance to share links to my portfolio. In my DM, I introduced myself, mentioned what I liked about their business, and offered specific examples of photo or video ideas I could bring to the table to help grow their business.
The result? Almost everyone who got back to me did so with a polite and friendly “Thanks, I’ll keep you in mind” type response -- which is cool, that’s what I expected. Two of the businesses I messaged, however, were immediately interested in meeting me to discuss logistics and pricing.
Those meetings led to me closing two of my most profitable shoots of the year.
The best part? I didn’t have to pay a dime towards advertising. I simply took the time to prospect the right clients and offer my services in a genuine, personal, and specific way.
So, it’s safe to say, I’m going to be doing a lot more outreach this year.
Diversify Content Across Social Platforms
At the time of this writing, Instagram has been not-so-subtly tweaking their algorithm -- and the results haven’t been pretty.
There was a time last year that I would get a consistent 8% engagement on most of my posts. These past couple months though, I’m lucky if I break 3%.
This isn’t an isolated incident either -- content creators across all sorts of industries have experienced a significant drop-off in their reach and engagement. Instagram hasn’t addressed the issue yet, so no one really knows yet why it’s happening and what they can do to help the situation (besides doing paid advertising, but I’ll save that for a different post).
As frustrating as this phenomenon is, it highlights the importance of an adage we’re all familiar with but tend to ignore: “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”
Photographers have come to rely on Instagram to showcase their hard work, but it’s foolish to make it the sole platform you publish your content on. When (not if) Instagram decides it doesn’t want to show your work to anyone, you need to have other places where you can shift your attention and get in front of your audience.
Produce More Audio Content
Podcasts have gone through an interesting trend wave in the last ten years. When they first became a thing, they were all the rage, but there was a time around 2010 when they weren’t that popular.
Now, they’re massively “in” again.
Part of the reason podcasts have become so popular is that people value saving time more than ever. Podcasts offer people the luxury of doing two things at once — they can consume their favorite content while commuting to work or preparing dinner. Video doesn’t offer that flexibility since it demands the person’s attention.
Since I want to give my audience a choice with how they receive my content, I’m going to be producing more podcast episodes. If you haven’t already, subscribe to my show and give it a listen!
Shoot More Video
It’s no secret that video has become a dominant medium in the social media world. Text and audio will always have their place, but as a visual content creator, your ability to story-tell increases dramatically if you know how to shoot and edit video.
In 2019, being able to offer your clients photography and video strengthens your value proposition. Because of this, I plan on doubling-down on video this year, both with my personal branding and client work.
Do More Personal Projects
As creatives, we all eventually become uninspired at some point. It happens to the best of us.
That’s where personal projects come in. They give you a chance to try out new ideas and techniques without the pressure of delivering on client expectations. Personal projects are the playground where you get to explore new territory and bring your creative vision to life.
I try to fill the gaps between client shoots with personal projects. Not only do they keep me creatively sharp, I often end up creating some of my strongest work that I then use as leverage to attract new clients.
Do More Commercial Photography
Commercial photography is photography taken with the intent to sell a product or service.
Let’s say Nike approaches you to shoot their Spring line of athletic wear and that all images you deliver to them will be used on their website and social media. That’s commercial photography -- they’re using the image assets to sell their products.
Compare this to retail photography -- senior portraits and weddings, for example. With retail photography, you’re generally just giving delivering images to an individual or small group of people for personal use. They might post on social media or (if you give them a release) make prints.
What’s the difference between retail and commercial photography?
For one -- commercial photography tends to have a lot more moving parts. It’s common to work with your client through an advertising agency, and there are usually very specific expectations for what the end result needs to look like.
The difference though, is that commercial jobs generally (but not always) have larger budgets than retail jobs. This makes sense, given the complexity of commercial shoots, since you have to factor in variables like insurance, permits, talent fees, crew, pre and post-production expenses, licensing, and so much more.
With all of that said, I love doing commercial work!
Being a part of a big project can be challenging, but it’s also immensely gratifying to successfully execute on something as a team . Not to mention, commercial shoots can be a great foot in the door to other commercial opportunities.
Document More of My Journey
There really is no such thing as putting yourself out there too much.
As long as the quality of the content you create has value, it’s impossible to overshare your wisdom and experience.
I’ve done a pretty good job in the past with sharing my creative process and personal journey, but I can (and will!) do more of it this year.
Ultimately, opportunities will only come your way if people know who you are and what you do. It’s easy to create content -- everyone is doing that. But creating content about your content? That’s how you differentiate yourself.
You can also create content about content ABOUT CON -- just kidding. You guys get the point I’m making though.
I hope you found this article helpful. Leave me a comment with your thoughts or questions, especially if we share any of the same goals this year. I’ll be happy to connect with you on Instagram and randomly DM you to keep you accountable. :)