This is a guest post written by Danny Coy of MyPhotographyCompetition.
I have always enjoyed taking photographs, but I always thought of it as a hobby. I decided that I was sick of working for people and that I wanted to be my own boss. I know my photos are great due to the positive feedback I receive. But, there are tons of other people who could do just as good a job if they had the opportunity.
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I don’t claim to be the best photographer in the world, but I do possess a great skill set that most photographers don’t: networking!
How do I get ahead of the competition? How do I market myself properly? How do I gain clients? In the end, it all comes down to your networking skills. Obviously, the word ‘network’ suggests that you need to connect yourself to as many different people and companies as you possibly can. This is easier said than done, but it’s possible with hard work and determination. Here are 10 insider tips to become a professional travel photographer:
SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
With the advancement of smartphone cameras, even images with very poor resolution can look incredible on social media. Yours have to be a cut above the rest. Social media works best when not just one of your images is great, but if your gallery looks incredible as a collective. This is especially important when it comes to Instagram. The amount of followers you have is not necessarily as important as the quality of the content. You can almost guarantee that nearly every client will look at your social media to see your online portfolio. This means that your first post could potentially be as important as your 1000th.
Social media doesn’t only encourage you to take more images, but it will also give you an insight into your niche and what is popular in your niche. This means that you can approach clients with the latest image trends and have a better chance at getting more work.
LINK YOURSELF IN TO LINKEDIN
The single greatest tool for reaching out to people who may be interested in your work is LinkedIn. I have lost count of the amount of work and opportunities that have come my way through maintaining a healthy LinkedIn presence. Remember that LinkedIn is a professional site and it should be treated as such.You never get a great response if you ram a sales pitch down someone’s throat. If you start conversing with people as you would do in the street, then you will find a way to let them know that you can have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Use LinkedIn to start building a community around your niche. Connect with professionals and ask if they ever need another pair of hands. Connect with businesses to see if they need any photography. Network with anyone that you can envision yourself working with at some point in the future. The site is built for task specific networking so you should be using it for just that.
CREATE A PDF OF WHAT YOU OFFER
Decide on what product you are going to offer and for how much. Do a lot of research. Be sure not to price yourself out of the market, especially if this is all new to you. Make sure the PDF is short and sweet, clearly outlining your services with a short portfolio and a link to a bigger one. Having a ready-made PDF will give potential clients the impression that you are a natural and have done this before (even if that’s not true).
You can almost guarantee that some clients will attempt to barter with you. Until you can afford to say no, those two letters should never come out of your mouth.
LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
You should never say no to work in the early stages of your career. If it is something you have never done before…do it! Think of it as a way to expand your portfolio and clientele. If you have to work for free for a while then so be it. Nobody loves giving his or her time away for free, but you have to think of the big picture. Keeping clients happy increases the chances of them using your name in conversation.
WORD OF MOUTH
Your name should be your main selling point. Understandably, it will take a while for people to recognize your name. Once they do, the work will start flooding in.
Your quality of work is the best way to get your name recognized, but the old clichés can work the best here. One thing I do is what I call a “check-back”. Very few people do it. A couple of weeks after whatever it is I have shot, I send a professional and courteous email. I’ll write that it was a great day, tell a little joke, and let them know that I’m available again if they/anyone they know ever needs a photographer. It brings you back into mind, and can lead to more clients.
COMPETE IN PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITIONS
Whatever your target audience, the more publicity you can get the better! There is no better way of getting a single image noticed than competing in a photo competition. I have won a few competitions myself and the amount of work that has come my way from those wins is amazing. People want to buy your prints and hire you for shoots. They can see you are talented and, more importantly, that other people love your work.
A photography competition is also another great way to see which shots are popular and which shots aren’t. Never be disheartened if you didn’t get the votes you wanted. Think of it as a great learning tool and strive to improve your photos.
MyPhotographyCompetition.com is my brand new website that aims to help nurture the talents of anyone who wants to get involved.
Photographers of every skill level run it. The creators have purposely built a simple and easy to use website so that it can be built around its users’ wants and needs.
Over the years I have tackled just about every photography style out there. I remember what it was like starting out and I wish I had a community in which I could share photos, win prizes, ask questions and help build a creative platform. I have taken this experience and put it into this website. As the website grows we promise to make sure the people who are visiting will also grow and even find work! The prizes for the competitions will also get better and better. Initially, we are going to be launching with ‘winner takes all’ cash prizes. The photo wish the most votes will win and there will be a similar prize to the photo that the editors deem to be best. In the near future, we will give away invaluable advice, cameras, laptops and even dream holidays.
The website doesn’t stop at the competitions. There will be heaps of blog posts to help you improve, as well as online courses and organized meets with professional photographers. There will be ways to apply for photography based jobs and even a magazine that is published through polls and current interests within the photography world.
START IN YOUR HOMETOWN
A great way to launch a professional photography career is to start within a small community and expand. Establish yourself in your hometown first. You won’t need to travel far for shoots, you know the best places to shoot, and you can easily meet face to face with clients. If there is an issue afterwards, you can resolve it with ease and professionalism.
It is still very tricky to set up in your local community, but it can be much more comfortable. When I initially started my career as a photographer, I wanted to simply sell prints. I approached local cafes and restaurants to see if I could put my work on the walls. I was willing to put the work up for free and offer a commission on any pieces that sold. I was surprised with the amount of places that said yes. I primarily found more success in the independent shops and restaurants.
I also found huge success when I offered free work to local people. This got my name out there, helped me build up my portfolio and connected me with some of the more esteemed business people within my hometown.
UPWORK AND GUMTREE
If you want to branch out, look to Upwork.com and Gumtree.com. You often have to put in a lot of time to see any returns, especially on Upwork. No pain, no gain.
On Upwork, you can search for people who are directly looking for photographers for a particular job. You filter the work to meet your abilities and send proposals to each client. Just make sure each proposal is worded to fit the work and not just copied and pasted.
On Gumtree, you can effectively advertise yourself and your work. Depending on what kind of photographer you are depends on whether or not there is a small fee for your advertisement. Not many people use Gumtree to look for photographers. On the other hand, not many photographers use Gumtree to promote themselves. You should have your pick of the field really.
POLISH YOUR WEBSITE
It goes without saying that you should have a website to showcase your work and attract clients. The website should be smooth and easy to navigate. The average person spends less than 30 seconds on a new website and clicks less than two links. All your “sales” info should be quick, clear, precise and attractive to entice people to stay longer.
BUILD A KILLER PORTFOLIO AND PRINT IT INTO A BOOK
When you are happy with your portfolio, you should make it a more permanent feature and ingeniously build yourself a photo book with all your best shots. Always carry this with you along with some business cards. If you happen to ever meet anyone who is in need of a photographer, you have something that most people don’t…concrete evidence of your talents. Try to build a couple of testimonials in there and add some text to explain a few of your images. Networking is about separating yourself from the other photographers!
Your work is your own and don’t let anybody put you down. You will come across clients that are impossible to work with. You will come across people who have nothing nice to say at all. Learn to take the rough with the smooth. As long as you are happy with what you have accomplished, you will overcome these obstacles and push on to great things.
With these ten insider tips, you’re bound to become a professional travel photographer in no time!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danny Coy is a professional photographer. His awesome website, MyPhotographyCompetition.com just launched. You can also join the MyPhotographyCompetition Facebook group, where you can connect with over 2000 photographers!
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