I’ve been working on the Revised, 2nd Edition of my book, “88 Secrets to Selling & Publishing Your Photography,” and I realized I wrote that book in better times. The economy was going full steam back then, and there was plenty of work to go around. But not now. Newspapers and magazines are closing left and right. In the process, lots of good, experienced pro shooters are being forced out into the open market to survive.
Add to that the advances in gear, the advancements in online marketing, and a more savvy photo buyer than ever before, and you have the recipe for possible distress.
But good shooters who work hard can also use this situation to get a leg up. People are looking at new vendor relationships. A publication that rejected you before, might have used an in-house shooter that they can no longer afford, making freelance opportunities that didn’t previously exist.
Here are some things you can do right now, in this tough economy, to increase your chances of selling your work.
(Obviously, this post should mean next to nothing if you’re not a pro. If you don’t care about selling your work, please forgive the diversion – there’ll be other posts of interest to you soon.)
If you’re having problems keeping up with your sales goals, consider taking these steps:
a. Stop working on personal projects that aren’t funded. I know it’s painful, but you can’t pay the bills with dreams. Leave time for paid assignment work. After the recession, you can go back to the pet projects. Right now, you should be shooting for publication. Find out what’s selling and shoot that. Find out who’s buying and shoot what they’re buying. Nothing else should matter right now.
b. Stop buying new gear. Rent gear when you get a job or make do with what you have now. Getting a new camera isn’t going to get you that next gig. Smiling and dialing is what will accomplish that. Get on the phone and set up some meetings. The buyer couldn’t care less what gear you use as long as you can assure him/her you can do the job.
c. Reduce other costs. Look at everything from your phone bill to transit costs. Can you take the bus or train instead of driving? Can you find a cheaper cell phone provider? Cutting costs during tough times only makes sense. Once the economy picks up again, you can go back to first class.
d. Network, network, network. Get out there and meet people. Attend every possible meeting you can. Spend time on online forums finding out what jobs are out there and who needs help. Offer to work with other photographers who don’t have your skill set – splitting the fee is better than nothing.
e. Don’t forget your existing clients. Now more than ever, your existing clients need to hear from you. Assure them that you’re still working – still available – and still interested in super-serving them. Those existing clients are like gold. It’s 10 times harder to get a new client than it is to keep an old one, so suck it up, and let them know you’re ready to work and that you appreciate their business. A simple thank you goes a long, long way.
f. Think outside the box. Productize every skill you have. Invent a new way to get your images out there. Think about solving problems. Work with the client’s needs in mind before your own. What could you create with your imagery that would help their business grow? Do some brainstorming.
g. Don’t panic. Certain types of photography, wedding and portrait for example, are nearly recession proof. You may actually find a way to INCREASE your income during this down time if you’re willing to work harder and longer than your competition.