Copyright Scott Bourne 2009 - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Scott Bourne 2009 - All Rights Reserved

Seven Steps to Selling or Publishing Your Photography in a Down Market

In a down economy, opportunity still lives. In fact, it can flourish. As Seth Godin says, when times are tough, all you have to do is show up to have a chance. Many have already given up clearing the path for you and your new ideas.

Photographers who want to break through will never have a better chance! Yes that’s a counterintuitive statement. But based on my experience it’s true.

It’s time to seek out the opportunities created by the new economic realities. The hardest part is figuring out what to do NEXT and how to move from the idea to execution.

Since every journey really does start with the first step, here are some very basic steps to get you started.

1. Brand or RE-Brand yourself. You need to establish an identity. While consulting with my friend and protegee Gary Hamburgh, I advised him to pick a niche with his photography and to build a brand accordingly. Gary spent most of his life in eastern Washington state close to an area called the Palouse. He’s made some great images there so I told him to consider branding himself as The Palouse Guy. He did and it’s working. (

2. Build or update your website. Now’s NOT the time to let cobwebs develop on your website. Freshen it up with some new images. Use the branding concepts I talked about to re-focus. If you don’t have a website, consider starting a free blog.

3. Build or refresh your portfolio. Pick your VERY best 10 or 20 shots. Put them online AND get them printed into a book. Spare no expense here. Your portfolio is everything. Showing it is everything else. Now is the time to spruce it up. It’s a step you can take to grasping the opportunities that await you in a down economy.

4. Build your referral network. Dig through every business card, e-mail, letter and fax you’ve received in the last year and create a list. How many of these people have referred or COULD refer work to you? Organization and tracking of these referral resources is crucial. In a down market, this might be the one single thing you simply can’t afford to ignore.

5. Shed each and every activity that doesn’t relate to showing or selling your work. When the economy is down, you need to take advantage of the void created by those who’ve abandoned the market. Time spent doing bookkeeping, taxes, printing, framing, fulfilling orders takes away from sales and marketing time. Hire someone else to do the stuff that comes AFTER you make the sale and the photo. Spend that time repeating the crucial steps of showing and selling – showing and selling your work.

6. Have a plan and work the plan. In this market, you need a road map and you need to stick to it. Without building business and marketing plans, you’ll have no way to hold yourself accountable or to gauge your own success. This is the time to hunker down and figure out how you’re going to get from point “A” to “B”. Sure I can drive to Anchorage from Miami without a map. But I guarantee you I’ll waste lots of time, energy, opportunity and money if I don’t have one.

7. Believe in yourself. This is the hardest part for many creatives, but in this economy it’s more important than ever. If you’re to compete for the new opportunities, how do you expect to get others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? Some people mistake confidence for arrogance. That’s their problem not yours. If you know what you’re doing, can create consistent, repeatable results, and you are willing to show those results to prospects, you have everything you need to succeed. Stop thinking about what you need to go further and simply start the journey. Using excuses like “I don’t have enough gear” won’t cut it. Get out there.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. […] Bourne’s post is aimed specifically at photographers, but there is no reason that his seven steps to selling or publishing in a down market cannot be applied (with tweaks) to other sorts of […]

  2. […] PhotoFocus gives us some tips on taking advantage of the current economic crisis. […]

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