Many photographers are uncomfortable with promoting themselves, feeling self conscious or thinking that self promotion is the same as bragging.
But here’s the thing. Self promotion is not about you. It’s about your clients and your marketplace. You have a product. They need it. You’re actually doing them a favour by providing that product.
Keeping this in mind, you can start to think about where your market looks for images and what you can do to help them find them. For me, this shift in thinking put aside much of the anxiety I originally felt in approaching potential networking contacts, and I think it has also increased my success rate. This is no small shift. You are actually moving from a sales focus, to a relationship focus, which is a huge jump. For starters, it is time consuming. Instead of a discussion, a quote, forward the image and get the payment, it’s regular phone calls, e-mails and cups of coffee with potential clients who may not even become clients for months, years or at all if you don’t have the specific images that they need. But if they do become clients, they are very likely to become repeat clients. Why? Because you’re there, they know you and feel comfortable that you have their best interests at heart.
These contacts also most likely have friends in the same industry with similar needs, and these needs might just be in line with what you can supply. It might just be that your name comes up in a casual conversation and a recommendation occurs because you have acted out of giving rather than trying to get, and you have another client. And it snowballs. And in this industry, as in most, it’s all about who you know.
If you come from a place of trying to help people, rather than trying to sell them something, often this is felt and appreciated. People feel more comfortable with someone who understands their needs and looks for solutions to meet them rather than someone who is simply looking for the next sale. And if it’s not appreciated, then maybe that person or group is not one that you are likely to build a successful long term relationship with anyway.