Not too long ago Charo and I posted about the Things that sucked about being a Self Employed Photographer. Because it seems that most of our readers are as as dark and cynical as we are, it was one of our most popular posts. Y’all are very aware that this blog is not an airy-fairy-you-can-do-it blog, you can find plenty of that information anywhere on the internet. And while the woo woo might pump you up for awhile, guess what the woo woo don’t do?
The woo woo does not help you focus on changes that have to be made. While it may “pump you up” the woo woo is poo poo unless it gives you plans for CHANGE.
The age of photography Rockstars is over. The new Rockstars are sharing hardcore business advice and you know what? They don’t like being called Rockstars. They like to be called “Photographers”
So, on to marketing mistakes. We’ve complied a list of the top things we did collectively and individually.
1. Not having a realistic marketing budget: You know that diamond advertisement/commercial that tells people that a engagement ring should be 3 months salary? The one that the DIAMOND industry came up with? Your marketing budget should be in proportion with your INCOME. And yes, conventional wisdom will tell you that 10% of your income is right and proper for marketing. But that means nothing if your income is 10K and you need 20K to pay your bills. That percentage comes AFTER you are profitable, not before. Before you are profitable, you get out there and hustle your ass off to promote yourself in ways that don’t take money off your table.
2. Offering products and services that you think you should because someone else has done well with it: This is huge with photographers and we’ve both been guilty of this. You go to seminar and you get revved up. The beach portrait buisness (Charo), the Boudoir sessions (Kim) that were something we saw someone else do (Damn you and your accent, Sue Bryce) and thought “Hey, I could do that” and quickly found out that A. We hated doing them and B. We were really not very good at them. It’s find to dabble in other areas of photography to see if you are interested, but please…please don’t make a big showy launch until you have spent some time really exploring the craft and you know you want to pursue it.
3. Thinking that paying for advertising is marketing: “I gave The Knot 2K and I never got a single inquiry!”. Truth: we all advertise with a dud now and again. But the more often the truth is you didn’t do your homework on who you were paying. You seriously thought spending big money would mean big clients. It doesn’t, and welcome to one of the most expensive lessons you will ever learn in your business.
4. Ignoring SEO: It makes a difference. I hate it, you hate it , we all hate it. I hate it like those timed multiplication tables in third grade that have scarred me for life. But the truth is, it is important. So you have two choices: learn it, or pay someone to do it for you. Even the most rudimentary amount makes a difference. It’s boring monkey work, but it’s an important part of workflow. You need to stop ignoring it. Period.
5. We had to make peace with the fact that it wasn’t all about the photos: Yes, people do hire your for your work, but mostly….they hire you for the experience that they want to have. The feelings your photos will evoke. If you are a creepy jerk, it does not matter how beautiful your photos are, because all they will see when they look at those beautiful photos is what a creepy jerk they worked with.
Now let’s be clear, we all need a little woo woo. I like my woo woo in the form of pedicures, massages, photos of bunnies on the internet and vodka. Charo is way less girly than me and likes geeky things like…I don’t know because it’s geeky and there are games and things that bore me when she talks about them and she prefers whiskey. She can’t think of anything worse than a pedicure than maybe…maybe a tickle fight, and lip gloss. But she’ll woo woo all day over some band that I have never heard of and a craft IPA. We all have our escapes, right?
Stay tuned for the next post where we talk about the things that (shockingly) we have done right over the years marketing.
And it bears mentioning, if you need a serious kick in your ass about marketing, you need to check out Marketog. It’s all the marketing stuff you ever needed to know and it’s…intense. There is nothing woo woo about this course, and it’s not for everyone, that is for sure. Want to check out a sample lesson to see if you can handle the truth?