The coming year is shaping up to be a challenging one for most photographers. The economic downturn accelerated the decline of print advertising, which directly or indirectly, provides much of the economic base for professional photography. Ad dollars that have migrated to online advertising don’t support photography nearly as well as print. Add to this the continued growth of microstock, and the downward price pressure it brings to many areas of photography, and you have the recipe for a very difficult year.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. While it will be more difficult to prosper, or even survive as a photographer in 2009, the profession will not simply go away. But it will contract and become even more competitive, so what can a photographer do to increase the odds that they will buck the trend and succeed in a difficult environment?
Looking ahead to 2009, photographers would do well to make the following resolutions for the new year:
Update the images on your Web site and remove any that are more than 2 years old.
If a potential client visits your site more than once and sees the same images, it will be difficult to get them to return again. Keep the images on your site fresh. Not only will it be more interesting for return visitors but it will force you to show off your more recent work and not rely on your “greatest hits,” which may look more dated than you realize.
Have your site critiqued by people who are knowledgeable and objective.
Then make the effort to implement their suggestions. You may be able to have your clients help you withe this. Making changes to your site design or functionality can be a pain, but your site is your primary marketing tool and deserves the effort.
Devote at least 10 hours per month to cold calls and follow-up calls.
There is no replacement for picking up the phone and calling new prospects or following up on previous conversations. Not many photographers look forward to this, but it’s essential for maintaining relationships and building new ones.
Sign up with an email service such as MyEmma, Constant Contact, Vertical Response or Mail Chimp.
Services like these make sending email promos easy. They also help to ensure your email blasts get through various spam filters and display correctly. In addition, these services also provide sophisticated tracking tools that let you know actually who’s viewing your email promos.
Write down your goals, and the steps you believe you need to take to get there.
Think about they type of work, clients or business arrangement that interests and excites you. It’s hard to know if you’re making progress unless you know what your goals are.
Focus on service.
Microstock is helping photography become more of a commodity. These days it’s service that separates high-end from low-end photography. What can you do to make life easier for your clients?
Help out another photographer.
This could be someone you’ve known for years that’s having a difficult year or someone just starting out. It could be a timely referral, loaning them gear or hiring them as an assistant or editor. Photography is a notoriously competitive business. Make an effort to “pay it forward” on at least a couple of occasions to make sure that there’s a surplus in your karma account.
Most importantly, resolve that you will continue to make a living as a photographer.
Unless you are dedicated to this idea, you may find the challenges of the coming year too much to cope with. But if you are dedicated to being a professional photographer, with hard work, ingenuity and flexibility you will find a way to persevere.
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