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If You Can TalkEver look at the category, "Photographers," in the Yellow Pages of your local telephone directory? A lot of competition, isn't there? What makes the difference then, between a "successful" photographer, and a mediocre photographer? Talent is certainly necessary, so is energy, action, and desire. If we can assume that every photographer listed in the Yellow Pages possesses all these attributes -- doesn't this even out their chances for "success?" Yes, it does. What, then, can make the difference? At the risk of sounding simplistic, the answer lies in how well you promote yourself.
Without promotion, you leave yourself to the mercy of chance. Sure, a few photographers are going to "make it" by sheer luck -- the old “at the right place at the right time” to get launched with the right clients. But the majority of photographers we have seen who are successful have become that way because they figured out effective ways to promote themselves and their photography.
Here's a simple way to promote yourself, and it doesn't cost you anything: You probably enjoy talking about what interests you most -- your particular aspects and approaches to photography. Put that to effective use in getting yourself exposure and visibility. Become a speaker.
In the same Yellow Pages that lists photographers, you'll find a listing of organizations, clubs, and associations. Each is always on the look-out for a program speaker. Let the "program chairman" know that you are available. In most cases they'll be happy to book you.
How do you get started? What should you speak about? As a photographer, you have a wealth of subject material available to you -- since 90% of your audience fashions himself or herself as a photographer, too. Your topics will revolve around what your main interests and experiences are, plus what you discern would be of interest and appropriate to your various audiences.
THE "HOW-TO" APPROACH
Basically you can build your "speech" around a How-To subject. Example: "How to Take Pictures of Your Family," "How to Take Indoor Pictures," "How to Take Nature Pictures," "How to Take Exciting Vacation Pictures." Give your speech title this test: Does my speech apply to my listeners? In other words, "Am I speaking about something that applies directly to them?"
Sprinkle in several stories describing your own experiences or struggles.
One word of caution. Your listeners want to be entertained -- not educated. They don't want a lecture. If they did, they'd register at the local Adult Education Center. Tailor your speech so that it is "entertaining." You'll get audience response (feedback), and this will aid you in refining your speech. Eventually, program chairpersons will seek you out. And how does all this affect your photo marketing success? You'll discover excellent spin-off from your public appearances. Assignments will come your way. Your name as a photographer will be catapulted ahead of equally talented photographers who are relying on the Yellow Pages as their main form of promotion.
Another spin-off: If you find that you enjoy speaking, the field is wide open to you. Payment? At first, charge nothing, except perhaps a fee to cover your out-of-pocket expenses such as babysitting, gas, etc. You be the judge in making this decision. At this stage, the speaking experience and exposure are more valuable to you. As you progress, start with modest fees. Increase your rate as demand for you increases. As your track record increases, so will your fee. Eventually, you may want to promote your own seminars and workshops.
For some more tips and ideas for your speeches, check out the Writing Center, at http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/. There you will find tips on writing speeches, with advice on everything from proofreading to using quotes in your speech. For more information, Walters International Speakers Bureau; PO Box 398, Glendora, CA 91740; Phone: (626) 335-8069; FAX: (626) 335-6127; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://speakandgrowrich.com/.
Another helpful number to call: (919) 962-7710 ;
[For more insights into how you can promote your work, see Chapter 10 of my book, Sell & ReSell Your Photos. This book is available on Amazon.com as a ‘used” book. The digital and electronic delivery information may not be right up to date in the older edition, the marketing insights are ageless and can catapult you toward becoming a successful Internet marketer.
Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA E-mail: email@example.com