Ahhhhhh the self promo...

Every photographer needs to have a firm understanding of marketing in order to be successful, after all you are selling something, are you not??  A lot of you, including yours truly, often default to the trusty self promo.  Many photographers have a file that they send out at regular intervals to keep interest in their work ongoing and keep themselves from fading into obscurity.  Now a small e-mail blast containing a PDF seems to be the way to go these days, but now more than ever people are often abusing Twitter and Facebook with continuous and obnoxious status updates that are more of an ego boost than actual help to your business.  Someone re-tweets a post of yours and you feel as though you've accomplished something, which is probably not the case.   I'm not saying you shouldn't keep your friends and family updated... but maybe 65-100 times a day is a bit much.

That being said, as I'm sure many of you know how hard it is to get a call back from a email blast.  Here's a little math to help some of you understand a bit better.  With an email blast, you might get lucky and have around 5% of your emails even opened.   Of that 5% maybe 10% will actually visit your website.  Lets do a little math... that means that if you send out 1000 emails you hope to have a grand total of 50 people even open the email.  Of those 50 people (who may not even be able to help you) only 5 of them will actually visit your website; that's VISIT your website... not call you to hire you... just visit your website.  All you may have accomplished is taking up some space in an art buyers inbox and thus annoyed them... awesome.

Clearly I want this post to be somewhat helpful.  So here's something that has worked for me.  GO OLD SCHOOL!!  For the first 3 years of my "career" I lived in a tiny Astoria apt and struggled to make any headway.  I kept up with the tweeting and the facebooking and the whatever-ing with little to no success.  After visiting with a few art buyers and creative directors I began to see a trend... while in their offices I noticed that many of their walls were covered in a massive collage of magazine clippings and little bits photography and business cards.  With a little closer inspection I noticed that they were all from some seriously notable photographers... people I had even studied in college!!  Even while I was in their offices many of them would refer to said wall and tell me to "check this guy out" or "we're looking for this."  It dawned on me that there was not a single piece of my work on these walls... and I aimed to fix that.  I went back to my "studio" and immediately began creating a tangible hard copy representation of my work that I would ship out to these people by mail.  The response was astounding... I mailed about 200 of these promos to the exact people that I wanted to work with.  Out of the 200... over 150 ended up calling or emailing me, and of those I began working relationships with dozens of them mostly because I simply didn't have the time to work with 150 different clients from my super awesome Astoria based "studio."  When sending someone something that they can hold and touch, there's a far greater chance that they will actually take the time to look at it... especially knowing that you took the time to prepare it.  I have since asked many of the buyers I now work with how they deal with these, and they all seem to agree that they will look over any promo that comes across their desk but will almost always discard e-mailers.  That's just the way that goes.

This is one page of the promo that I sent a while back... with a few larger "hero" shots included in the package as well.

Mailed in a clear envelope so there was no mistaking what was inside and they could see the photos right away without having to work.  Speed and easy access to the photography is key.  You don't need strings/folds/or fancy wax seals with your initials to have them know who you are.  That's just a pain in the ass for them to deal with and not appreciated.  Be clever... not obnoxious.

It's funny because I always figured my "big break" would find me one day, and it had never really occurred to me that I would be able to create my own.   That was 2 years ago and 80+ happy clients later... so right now with the new studio down here in lower Manhattan, I'm preparing my second major self promo release and expanding to include my new studio manager, Erica.  I would love to hear what you guys have to say about which photos I should include... if you want a promo or just to weigh in, email me at James@JamesDouglasStudio.com

To see some seriously creative promos check here... http://www.pdngallery.com/contests/selfpromo/2009/flash_module.shtml

- JD

As always you guys can check out the WEBSITE here... www.JamesDouglasStudio.com
Follow me on TWITTER here... www.twitter.com/TheJamesDouglas
And LIKE something decent for once...  www.Facebook.com/TheJamesDouglasStudio

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