Becoming a Freelance Photographer: Marketing

Info media photography : I’m going to start this installment of this small series with a clarifying measure: Marketing and Networking are two completely different things. Now that that’s out of the way, lets get into the specifics of your next step into the freelancing world. If you’ve read the Networking part of this series you should realize that networking is pretty much getting yourself and your services out there via word of mouth. Marketing is the opposite of Networking, and consist of letting people who’ve never heard of and most likely never would have heard of you that you are here and ready for work.
Now there are four year degrees granted to people whose preferred profession is marketing, and if you could afford to hire one of these people I highly recommend it, but if your like most starting freelancers than this is well outside your budget. Fear not however, because there are many ways that you can market yourself without paying top dollar.

1. Social Marketing
Similar to the idea of Social networking, Social Marketing is using social sites as a form of add campaigning. Sites that work well for this are Facebook, Google, and even Craigslist. Now while social networking is typically a page that you can direct people to or they may accidentally stumble upon, Social Marketing is actually using those ads that Facebook places on the side of all their pages, or the AdWords program Google offers. Now both of these programs cost, and might seem terrifying at first, but do not worry they both offer step by step support and you get to set up your own budget.

2. Traditional Marketing
Billboards, TV commercials, high end print ads, and the like are usually well outside of a freelancer budget, but that doesn’t mean that traditional Marketing is completely out of your realm of possibilities. The easiest method of marketing yourself in a traditional ad method is by simply getting some business cards. You would not believe the difference these little cards make. Not only do these cards make you seem more professional, but they also work well in small scale marketing campaigns. Take a set of them and see if some local businesses (like coffee shops, galleries, gas stations, ect.) will let you leave some with them. Many businesses will let you do this for little to no cost.

The business card is the cheapest and sometimes most effective
form of traditional marketing. Photo by Plantoo47.
3. Having a Presence Both Online and Offline 
This is probably the most important part of marketing, and even networking, as a freelancer. If you crate a small ad campaign online, and leave business cards around your town, there is a good chance that a few people will at least check out what your offering. But for them to check it out, you need a place for those business cards and online ads to go. A website is the absolute best method of providing a place to see your work and learn more about what you do. Having a Facebook page in place of a primary website is not really a good alternative, and takes away from your credibility as a professional. There are many website providers and many pre-made sites that will allow you to create a good site without any real web experience. Also, with a website you have now included yourself in the search juggernaut of Google.
Another good aspect to maintain, is to have a prime location and hard copy portfolio. Using your studio location is a good idea for this. But this allows for people who don’t like the idea of seeing your work online, or who are just wondering around and are curious to not only see your portfolio but also your work area. I can say from experience that the people who come in like this, are a lot easier to secure business from than those who are simply looking at your website. Because these people get a chance to see what ou can offer, both in photography, prints, and service.

This is only a portion of your potential clients, there are still millions
more you need to reach. Photo by glenharper.
Now that you understand two of the most important non-photography points of freelance photography you are well on your way to working as a freelancer, but there is still one thing you should know as a freelance photographer. Which I will cover in the final part of this series…

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