Mike and I are just back from the NPPA Northern Short Course in Elizabeth, NJ. Major kudos go out to Michelle McLoughlin and team for organizing several days of excellent speakers.
Some of the talks I was able to attend included, Alan Spearman, Meredith Birkett, Andrea Bruce, Tim Rasmussen and Jamie Rose. The work of course was powerful and energizing. We left feeling warm and fuzzy, too.
My goal was to attend as many business-related talks as possible since I teach my students about design, branding, marketing and basic business practices for photographers and designers. So, for those of you who weren't able to attend, below are some notes from talks about marketing, branding and grant proposals.
Bill Cramer is CEO of Wonderful Machine and his presentation was about branding and marketing. Here are a few takeaways from his talk:
- Specialize: His example was that of a food photographer. Instead of food, why not focus on beverages?
- Your work: Show the right work and gear your portfolio to what you want to do. What does your portfolio say about you? Show your personality.
- Graphic identity: Create marketing materials that support your photography Presentation matters as well as your style.
- Use yourname.com for your primary domain
- Present large images and use 30 images max
- Keep your navigation labels simple (about, blog, contact) and keep your site easy to navigate. Your website should be intuitive.
- Ditch the music, watermarks, splash pages and intros. Less is more.
(Hmmm ... All of that sounds so familiar :)
- Social media and blogs: Remember your audience and gear your topics to your clients.
- Don’t get too personal or rant on personal politics.
- Make it easy for people to find you: There are many clients who have never heard of you. Take advantage of directories, pay attention to SEO (search engine optimization).
- Seek out your clients: Take charge of your career and think beyond just word of mouth. Focus on which clients are appropriate for you
- Use direct mail: Print may be more expensive but it is worth it.
Wonderful Machine has some great resources on their How We Help Photographers page. Be sure to check it out.
And, be sure to read Portland, Oregon based photographer Lincoln Barbour’s answers to Brian Stevenson’s questions about Wonderful Machine.
Grant Proposals with Louie Palu
I really enjoyed both of Louie's talks. He's a great example of a photographer savvy about business, brand recognition and the value of his work. It was pretty obvious that his confidence gives him the freedom to do work that is important to him and it seems, do it his way.
Here are some highlights about packaging a grant proposal:
- When writing a grant proposal, include what is required. Highlight the criteria and make sure to get the basics into the proposal.
- Show evidence of access. Include images that show you do have access; that you can do what you propose.
- Be persistent in getting funding. Just because you aren't awarded the first time doesn't mean you can't be in the future. Don't give up on any project before you begin.
- Include a budget estimate. How will you use the money? Be clear and transparent.
- Do your research. Provide supporting and contextual information (maps, graphics, etc.) Strategically add supporting information in your captions. Bridge the connection between history, current events and data.
- Publish and sell your story as a package. Don't sell single images. You'll minimize or lose the chances to get additional funding.
- Create and manage your brand. People are watching you and making notes about you. First impressions matter. Your personality matters.
The big takeaway for me from both of his talks: Position yourself as an expert.
Below are links to interviews with Louie on writing grant proposals and his work:
- 2012 Interview with Louie Palu at AlexiaFoundation.org
- Anatomy of a Winning Grant Proposal: Louie Palu’s Kandahar Project
Marketing with Andrew Fingerman
I’m a big fan of Photoshelter for many reasons but the big reason? The people who make up the company. So, when I learned Andrew would be speaking I made a point to catch his talk about marketing.
Andrew's take on marketing was fresh and so useful:
- Focus on audience rather than clients. Your audience is larger than your target client pool. Your audience is anyone who wants to consume content and rich storytelling.
- Create an ecosystem. Make it easy for your audience to connect the dots.
- Specialize. Don’t be afraid to be hyper focused.
- Partnerships. Develop relationships with like-minded organizations to maximize exposure.
- Increase discovery. Where can you be discovered? (Flickr, 500px, Instagram, Facebook, Quora, Vimeo, etc.)
- Brand advocates. Help your audience spread the word about you.
SEO. Increase organic search results with a search-engine friendly
website. Use keywords and tags where possible. Layer keywords in your
headlines and blog posts. (Note: This is why blogs are so important and why using Photoshelter for your images is a step in the right direction)
- Personality matters. It’s your brand. Be consistent and show who you are as a person.
- Provide solutions. Cumulative efforts will pay off. Provide helpful, useful content. (This is typically referred to as “content marketing”.)
Marketing is keeping yourself on people’s radar.
Andrew also some really solid case studies:
I love the quote (below). It's so accurate. You need some kind of greater motivation to light that fire in your belly to go make your next best picture.
Visit their Free Guides page to download a slew of helpful guides on the business of photography.
The Value of NPPA
The NPPA is making a concentrated effort to bring great content to the photography community. Their recent website redesign, this conference and many other changes are worth supporting. Don’t let the word “Newspaper” scare you off. Sign up for membership and show support for your fellow photographers.
“Newspaper” is being redefined. That, is exciting!