The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.
Marketing is a challenge for most photographers. This is because it has very little to do with creating art. Many artists abhor marketing their work. Most have never studied marketing. I know. I was one of those artists. When I started selling my work I believed that marketing was putting a price tag on my work. No, cross that, because at first I did not even use price tags! Just deciding what price to charge for my work was was I considered to be marketing.
My early attempts at selling my work were rather disappointing to say the least. The lack of sales forced me to change my mind. I realized I had to study marketing or die trying to make a living as an artist. I did, and to make a long story short I became financially successful selling my work, making a six figure income only two years after taking the decision to embrace marketing.
In 2011 I published a book titled Marketing Fine Art Photography in which I detail how to market your fine art photography successfully and profitably. I wrote this book to save you from having to go through the tribulations I went through early in my career. The goal was to save you from having to attend the school of hard knocks, an institution whose door is better left unopened.
About this essay
The goal of this essay is not to repeat what I say in my book. The book is over 300 pages long and has 23 chapters so doing so would not be doable in a web essay anyways. Instead, the goal of this essay is to introduce you to some of the fundamental concepts of marketing. I selected 14 that I consider to be the most important. There are more, but those are a good start. The goal is also to get you interested in reading my book. The money you will spend buying it will be a minor expense compared to how much more money you will make if you do what I say in the book. Does this sound like a sales pitch? You bet it does! I am asking for the sale and if you wonder why you need to go directly to paragraph number 7.
About the 14 commandments below
Each of the 14 paragraphs below consist of a title followed by a short statement, usually one or two sentences long. The reason for these brief statements is to keep this essay interesting and to the point. If the information I am presenting here is not for you, then reading these will not have taken much of your time. If, on the other hand, you like the materials presented here and want to learn more about each of the 14 aspects of marketing listed below, then you need to purchase and read my book. Each of these points, and much more, are addressed in detail in my book, together with examples, photographs and more.
1 – Sell quality, not quantity
Art is a luxury, not a commodity. Luxury items are sold on the basis of quality, not on the basis of quantity.
2 – Don’t sell on the basis of price, sell on the basis of uniqueness
To achieve this you will need to work hard at developing a personal style that is unique to you.
3 – Don’t be faceless: show yourself
At shows, be present in your booth. On the web, show a shoulder-up portrait of yourself on your website, on your artist statement, on your Facebook page and everywhere else you have a presence and sell your work.
4 – Increase your prices regularly
Everything increases in price and therefore so do your expenses. If you don’t increase your prices you eventually reduce your income.
5 – Don’t be passive: take charge of your business
Enforce your policies and don’t try to be all things to all people.
6 – Think like a business owner
Think like a business owner, not like an employee. Business owners are responsible risk takers.
7 – Ask for the Sale
Don’t let potential customers walk away without trying to close the sale. The least often asked question in sales is ‘do you want to purchase this product or service?’ Make it your most often asked question!
8 – Know your audience
You are not selling to a faceless crowd, you are selling to people who like you and your work. Learn who they are and know why they like what you do.
9 – Sell emotion
Sell emotions, not gear and technique. People purchase photographs for emotional reasons, not logical reasons. Print size, camera used, printer, ink paper, etc. do not sell photographs. Beauty, emotional impact, meaningfulness and other emotional reasons do.
10 – Never stop marketing
Market when business is great and market when business is poor!
11 – Believe in Yourself
Believe that you can. Whether you believe you can do it, or whether you believe you cannot do it, you are correct!
12 – Show what you want to sell
You sell what you show. Therefore show what you want to sell. You can’t show all the photographs you have taken, so you will need to make a selection!
13 – Offer packages
Packages always outsell a la carte. This means that a package price for 3 or more photographs, for example, will sell better than 3 single photographs. You can offer packages of photographs in any quantity from 2 to 10 or more.
14 – Attend my Marketing and Business success seminar
You can’t re-invent the wheel. Well, let me restate that: you can try to reinvent the wheel, but what’s the point? It has already been invented and it is best to use the one that’s already there. Can you improve on it? Sure, but you must have one first!
The ‘wheel’ in this instance are the techniques used to sell fine art photography successfully. These are techniques I use (I am successful in case you don’t know me). Not the techniques unsuccessful photographers use.
There a lot more unsuccessful fine art photographers than successful fine art photographers. A lot more!
How do you know who is successful and who isn’t? Look at prices and regularity of sales. I sell fine art photographs at high prices and I do so on a constant basis, meaning I have regular, high-priced sales.
Why is that the key to success? Because in fine art you make more money by charging more for your artwork. You don’t make more money by charging low prices and making up the loss on volume. That’s what unsuccessful photographers believe and try to do. It does not work because there is no volume.
Selling art is a low volume business! What happens if you lower your prices is you make less money, that’s all. And because prices define how good you are (meaning people decide how good you are based on your prices), you lose most of the interested buyers. They want quality and you don’t have it in their eyes. Even though your work may be great, your prices say that it is not good.
So how do you ask high prices, get people to pay them, and get people tobuy from you regularly? Not easy heh? You may have tried so you know how hard it is. The answer fits in 3 words: attend my seminar. I’ll teach you how. Here is the link to the description and registration information:
I even have a special offer to entice you to attend. Just keep in mind that by attending you are doing yourself a favor by giving yourself the keys to success. Of course I appreciate your business, but I will continue to do great whether you attend or not. What matters is your well-being, not mine. Do yourself a favor, make yourself a gift, and join me in learning how to outdo all the unsuccessful photographers out there.
15 – Buy my book
If you can’t make it to the seminar buy my book Marketing Fine Art Photography because it expands on the concepts presented here. It is totally outdated compared to the seminar, and it won’t give you the techniques that work today, but it is a best seller and it will teach you the basics of success in selling art. To be truly competitive in today’s economic environment you will need to attend the Seminar, but if you can’t attend for whatever reason this is a start:
About Alain Briot
I create fine art photographs, teach workshops and offer DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. I am the author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available as printed books on Amazon.com and as eBooks on my website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html
You can find more information about my work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to my Free Monthly Newsletter on my website. To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive 40 free essays in eBook format immediately after subscribing.
I welcome your comments on this essay as well as on my other essays. You can reach me directly by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.