Marketing a headache for Pros

Brace yourself, because we are going to hurl some stats your way: every year PhotoShelter – the leading photography portfolio website people – surveys professional photographers to get an outlook for the coming year, and reflect on the year passed.

The greatest source for new clients according to PhotoShelter

The greatest source for new clients according to PhotoShelter

The report’s 5787 participants are 73 percent American, but the survey is focused on marketing and the industry climate, which has universal interest.

There is a large focus on the shift to an online platform, which may be exaggerated given that PhotoShelter is in the business of selling portfolio websites.

A whopping 88 percent of professional photographers responding  (professional meaning half or more wages sourced from photography) are freelancers, with the remaining employed as staff photographers for organisations or companies.

With such a large number of pros being freelance, it comes as no surprise that 50 percent plan on increasing their marketing budget to improve exposure. (But what’s the odds that many of those plans come to nought!)

Currently just under half of pros take two to four hours a week to market their photography, and spend up to US$1000 a year doing so.

Facebook is the most popular social media website for marketing, according to both professionals and photo buyers, with LinkedIn and Twitter coming in second and third, but trailing some distance behind.

Twelve percent of pros choose to avoid social media, but 55 percent of those who use it  have found it increased clients/revenue.

Social media is not the greatest source for new clients though, with good old fashion word-of-mouth (37 percent) and in-person meetings (13 percent) outweighing the digital platform (8 percent).

‘Photographers make mistakes when they don’t clearly position themselves in their outreach. I need to know what type of photographer they are and their style,’ an advertising agency art director told Photoshelter. ‘If it looks like they are all over the place, I can’t be confident that they can do my job well.’

This suggests an organised pitch in person, supported by an established online presence can be the difference in whether a client is gained or lost.

This is clear to most, with 92 percent owning a website dedicated to displaying their photos, and three-quarters planning to improve their site.

Finally, the challenges that most pros face this year is not ‘finding the right gear’ (8 percent) or ‘copyright’ (21 percent) but revolves around marketing: ‘finding new clients’ (80 percent); ‘getting found online’ (47 percent); and ‘pricing’ (36 percent).

According to the report, professional photographers are optimistic about the year ahead and plan on making it their best year yet. Well why wouldn’t you!

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