Marketing Your Work

If you're going to be a successful photographer or, for that matter, any kind of artist, you've got to take care of business and market your work. After all, there is a difference in being and artist and making a living as an artist. Too many artists tend to overlook (if not down right look down on) this, but we shouldn't. It is the key to making a living doing what we love.

To make a living as an artist--whether as a fine artist, freelance commercial artist or performing artist--we have to master the same skills and professional attitudes as self-employed persons in other occupations. That means managing our money wisely, pricing our products and services fairly and profitably, investing in marketing, understanding the importance of copyright law, and negotiating fair contracts, as well as insuring our health, business and future. He have to think like business people, to work like entrepreneurs.

Whether we paint, take photographs or throw pots, art is our way of communicating with the world. But we haven't communicated a thing if no one sees our work. To make that connection, we have to market our work--whether we choose to do it ourselves or hire someone to do most of it for us. (There are certain things that only we can do.)

The first dozen years of my career were spent in marketing--helping companies position and promote their services. As a magazine editor, my marketing skills were far more important to the survival of the magazine than my ability to edit. As a book author, the publisher looked to me to promote my titles. And as a photographer, I don't have work unless I'm continually promoting myself to potential clients. It's just the way our world works. At a minimum, every artist should have the following marketing tools:

1. A logo and professional letterhead stationery.

2. A media kit or sales kit (depending upon the audience), which will likely include some combination of a biography, resume, artist statement, samples of your work or brochure.

3. A portfolio that showcases your best work (and only your best work). It should also feature the kind of work you want more of.

4. A website, which serves as an easily accessible online portfolio, but can also promote your latest projects, give potential customers a feel for who you are, and even sell your work online.

5. Internet portals--which are, essentially, websites run by other organizations that allow you to showcase a few pieces of your work and to provide a link to your website.

6. Blogs and social networks, while not yet essential, are rapidly becoming a popular way to connect with potential clients and to promote your work.

7. And finally, ongoing promotional mailings to potential clients--whether postcards, query letters/proposals, direct mail/email pieces or other unique promotional mailings.

Try  tackling marketing with the same creative energy you put into your work!