How do you make the most of the referral program
? How do you popularize your photography online? Perhaps you're looking into shooting some assignments for direct clients in the year to boost your creativity, experience and income... But then, how do you get these? For those of you who have decided to only do microstock - how do you channel more clients directly to your portfolio?
Yup, you've gotta be on-line as well. You could do a ton of other things, but ensuring your online presence is pretty much the easiest and most cost effective method these days. Here's a few key elements for good online presence of a photographer.
1) Have a decent website.
I can't begin to describe how important the design, usability and ultimately - purpose of your photo site is... Well, I think I might have started to, but anyway - you get the point. It needs to be a dedicated
website. Not your family blog, not your personal facebook account either (more on that later). A good photographer's site is well designed, offers easy navigation throughout your portfolio, says a bit about yourself, perhaps your assignment pricing, offers a way for direct contact. If you're going to emphasize your portfolio at the agency - do it nicely. 35 referral banners on a single page weren't appreciated back in 1999 when bandwidth was limited, and for other reasons they're not appreciated today either. You need to have some other type of main content which will attract visitors. Nobody will come there just to click on a referral link.
I won't dig into the Flash or non-Flash dispute. There's already enough of it online. Whichever way you go - make it nice, clean and simple. It needs to be search-able too, somehow.
2) Ensure that you'll offer good content to your visitors.
Here you can go two ways - you'll either write to other photographers or to potential customers... Or both, actually. It seems to me that today the gallery/presentation + blog sites do well. It's an easy split between audiences and is unobtrusive to the other half. If one comes to evaluate your portfolio alone - they can do that easily. On the other hand, you can also quickly create a mini community of sorts by drawing more people for the knowledge you're offering in the blog - be it business-oriented, photographic, etc.
I'll be honest here. For various reasons I'm not on facebook, the twitter, the hyves, etc. If you're into that type of thing - use it also to promote your photography, your articles, to establish an audience. HOWEVER, do it with a caution. It's very easy to spend a ton of time on social networks without actually generating traffic, referred buyers, or income in any way. It's ultimately your "creating of content" that will fill your wallet. I see the social sites as more of a way to get your already created content out there...
Where are your potential customers? Participating in design communities AND the message boards
might turn out to be more useful than updating your facebook status every 10min. ;)
As more and more people get to know you as a photographer it becomes easier for clients to find you... as a photographer.
What I've finally gotten myself to do is update my gallery site and launch a photo/photo-business related blog together with it. You can see the results at http://petarneychev.com
, respectively. Both are inter-linked too for ease of navigation.
My main idea was to make a site which will not only appeal to customers, but also to fellow photographers. And in the age of "countless methods to share knowledge" I wanted to do exactly this. I still turn to good old printed books for new stuff, but much of what I know has come from the Internet. To me it's only fair that each of us gives back from their experience in return.
Having said all this, I've lately been impressed by the sites of some fellow contributors. Just wish that each of us will offer a bit more of what we know. Yes, it will make the competition smarter too, but if others did it and it meant benefits for us, who are we to say we won't do the same? ;)
Feel free to critique my site and blog. I'm in the process of learning too... continually.