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More popular myths of pro photography

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More popular myths of pro photography

Many so called ‘tips’ for your photo business are best avoided (pt.3)


Some time ago Keith compiled a collection of 50 rather poor business tips for working photographers.

In a series of posts (5) Keith looks at the collection of business tips and discusses just what’s wrong with them and why he chooses a different approach for our own business.

Note that these are related to running a photography business that makes a profit, not just making the odd bit of cash every now and again.

All our business related articles have their own index page

96 cup of coffee

10 business tips you might want to avoid (pt.3)

From ‘50 photo business tips

You are the photographer – you know best about what’s important when showing your work.

All too often, photographers make relatively poor curators of their work, even if their artistic intentions can make them disinclined to admit it.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be the final arbiter of any showing of your work, just that it can help to get some views from people you trust.

For a business web site this becomes even more important, in that you need to know what your audience are looking for.

I photograph building for architects and property developers. Developers (and their brochure designers) are more likely to go for something like this.

St George's Tower photo collection - Corner of building

Whilst architects tend to prefer vertical lines as vertical.

St George's tower from London Road

I might like something with a bit more of an abstract feel, such as:

St George's Tower photo collection - roof terrace

The point is that if I’m showing images to potential clients, I need to have photos that they will like.

That’s not to say I don’t want a style and theme for images, just that they have a sales job to do…

Write a general blog – you’d be surprised how many clients also want to know about your cat/baby/new car.

A blog for you business site has a reason to be there, and that is to help your business.

Whilst part of the idea is to make you seem a bit more of a real person (‘people buy from people’ is an old marketing adage) you should set a line on just what you want covering.

The same goes for social media, where it’s all too easy to cross the line into ‘over-sharing’.

Think about your interactions when planning your blog and social strategies – it’s usually a good idea to keep ‘personal’ accounts well away from business ones.

Look for ways of saving money – host your blog on a generic blog host.

Get yourself a proper web domain – if the site is there to benefit the business, then you need to know what SEO is about.

You don’t need to become an expert, but it helps to appreciate that the best looking and most relevant web site in the world is of no use if no-one finds it.

See also:

Your pictures speak a thousand words – clients can see the quality of your work without tedious explanations.

You need words on your web site.

Not only does it increase the chance of being found through searches, it also helps those looking for a photographer who do not work entirely visually themselves.

I regularly look round at competitor’s web sites and am always pleased to see nothing but a wall of photos – I might have an idea what the photographer is saying, but can rest assured that there are a proportion of visitors that will just go ‘Huh’ and move on.

Once again involve other people in your site design – preferably some who might think like the people you are trying to sell your services to?

Value and promote your artist’s statement – never underestimate the benefits of a detailed explanation of your vision, motivation and influences.

Yes, pile it on, please.

Unless you know your audience expects it and won’t see it as pretentious nonsense, be very careful pushing the artsy stuff.

Flash is the future – make your web site different. Artistic integrity is vital – make your site fun to use.

I can’t believe I still seeing web sites that are flash powered.

I guess their audience doesn’t use iPhones and have not removed any Flash installs as security hole ridden malware magnets.

Big bold splash screens are essential – start your web site as you mean to go on.

I know you want to hit visitors with big powerful images but they have probably arrived at your site with some specific questions in mind and are probably not looking for an illustrated tour of your front lobby.

Another feature I welcome on competitor’s web sites – the 20%+ of visitors they instantly lose is welcome elsewhere ;-)

Choose your web site music to impress.

Unless you are promoting your band, music has very little place on your site.

Remember that it has the power to irritate and annoy – especially at work.

Features, features, features – potential clients love exploring your web site.

This is a pretty big web site – it’s why it took me a long while to re-write/update. Most of the complexity is hidden at the front page, since that’s where I’m trying to answer some of the questions that visitors have as simply and directly as possible.

In the past I used to do usability research and know that you can never cater to everyone, so offer alternative routes to take people where you think they will find what they are looking for. On our front page you could go to one of our areas of commercial work through the small images, or the main menu.

I still come across many sites where it’s difficult to find what the photographer does or there is no good contact information. I assume they don’t want people to call… ;-)

Pictures, pictures, pictures – Flickr/G+/500pix/FaceBook are the places for your professional work to be seen, and free.

lotteryOK, I’ll add Twitter and Instagram to that list (the 50 tips article was a while ago), but there seems to be a strong feeling (OK, vague hope) amongst many that if you just get your work ‘out there’ it will be found and fame/fortune will not be far behind.

The momentary thrill of likes and followers and desire for more is a classic addiction response. Much like buying lottery tickets, I can be pretty confident that you won’t win.

See also:

To be continued next week

Photo business tip article parts

More photography business related articles

Business related articles (50+) are listed on the Photo-business page.

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