Marketing Yourself

by Wayne A. English - All rights reserved.

Marketing is not selling. It is getting the word out that you are in business, what your business is about, and how you can be contacted. Your goal is to inform people who have the need and the funds to purchase your product or service.

Marketing is something you will be doing forever, one way or another. It is always cheaper and more effective to market to existing customers, so keep records, get email addresses, phone numbers, and contact names. Create a spreadsheet and back up the data at least three times, one or two for the office and one for your safe deposit box. You need to safe guard this data as if it were cash, because it is. Update the copy in the vault regularly.

Your Paperwork and The Web

Your business card and your brochures must be sharp. Your Web site must be a thing of beauty. Remember, your target customer, like you, is visually oriented and understands composition, color, and saleable photography. All of your business materials must present a polished, professional image.

Your Web address, its Universal Resource Locator (URL), is important. An address like www.joesmith.com or www.travelphotos.com is fine. We do not suggest using the address that is included at no additional charge by your Web access provider because it will be something like: webpages.webprovider.com/joesmith. This pegs you as an amateur.


Personal contact, the face to face meeting of one person with another, can’t be beaten for effectiveness. Join professional groups or local business groups and attend as many meetings as you can. This type of contact is not to be underestimated. You can easily meet someone who needs your product. Or meet someone, who knows someone, who needs your product.

Your name tag

Many people simply put their business card in a plastic holder and pin it on their shirt. Don’t do it. Have a name tag professionally made that looks sharp. Dress like a professional, pin the name tag on, and have your business card in a left pocket. Why? When you shake hands with your right hand your left hand passes over a card. Order at least 500 business cards, 1,000 is better, and give them all out. If you are not giving away 1,000 cards every year you are not networking enough.

You say you are shy. That was yesterday. Today you are no longer shy. Here is all you need to do. Stick out your right hand and give a firm, but not crushing, handshake, saying, "Hi, I’m Joe Smith, A travel photographer."

Your Elevator Speech

An elevator speech tells someone, in 30 seconds or less, what you do. Literally, it's done in the time it takes to ride an elevator.

For example, you say, “Joe Smith,” as you stick your hand out, “Travel photographer, we specialize in England and Scotland. We’re on the Web at TravelPhotography.com” as you hand the person two business cards. When you are told that he or she has no need for your cards. You say, “Please keep them anyway. Give them to a friend or colleague.”

The door opens and you and your elevator speech have struck again. Who knows, maybe at lunch this person will be introduced to an editor of a travel magazine and have your card to pass along.

Cold Calls and Cold Emails

Cold calls are a numbers game. When cold calling, keep track of your success rate. What you want to do is get a decision maker on the phone and tell them what you do, refer them to your web site, and to schedule a personal meeting if appropriate. So, have all your ducks all in a row. Keep track of who answered the phone, if you got by the gatekeeper, if you need to call back and when, who to ask for, the business name, phone number. Everything. Make a spread sheet in your computer to do this.

Cold emails. Don’t write each and every email. Here is how to do this:

  1. Write the email in your word processor. At the top of your email include a few words for the subject line which you will cut and paste later. Save the document and copy it to the clipboard.
  2. Open a blank email. Enter the address and paste the information on the clipboard into the body of the email. Cut and paste the subject information from the body of the email into the subject line of the email.
  3. Send the email. Repeat.

Keep records. You may be able to do a mass emailing. Find out if your email software supports Blind Carbon Copy, (Bcc). If so, this may do what you need and save you time and money on additional software.

Teach a Photography Course

This is an excellent way to become known. Write up a one page sheet to advertise the course beginning with an arresting statement: “Stop taking bad pictures.” Or “Stop wasting money.”

Next describe the course and say a few words about you and your expertise to be an instructor. End with a clear call to action: “Sign up today!” When you teach the course have your business materials available. Remember that you are teaching a course about photography not about you.

Be professional

Always conduct your self appropriately. Be the sharp, intelligent, get-the-job-done kind of a person that people want to work with. Always have three things with you.

  1. Your business card
  2. A ball point pen. When you attend a seminar or networking event always carry several pens. Why? One is for you, and the others to give away. Be sure they have your business name and contact information on them. Things like this are cheap advertising. Do a Web search on ‘promotional pens’ or ‘personalized pens’ for places to buy these and other like materials.
  3. Something to write on. Always carry a small spiral bound notebook. Failure to have something to write on cost us a Web client.

Read business books for ideas and talk to other travel photographers. Don’t be surprised if they greet you like a long lost brother or sister. These conversations can be very rewarding personally and professionally.

We do not wish you good luck. Our best wishes will avail you not. Making you own luck will. So, don’t wish for luck - manufacturer it.

About the Author

Wayne is a professional writer. He has been published in The Futurist, Smart Computing, Intercom the magazine for the Society of Technical Communication, Fate, and many others. He can be reached at http://www.wayneaenglish.com/ .

Comments on TPN travel photography articles? Please feel free to send them to mailto:editor@travelphotographers.net?subject=il0512 We would be pleased to hear from you!