Marketing is the key to being a professional photographer

The longer I work as a professional photographer, the more I am reminded that taking pictures is the easiest part of this job. The hardest part is marketing your work and yourself. I have tried various marketing strategies over the years, some more successful than others. All of them are built on the idea of regularly getting your work in front of the folks who will pay to use your images. So how do you find those folks?

Assuming you want to send periodical promotional pieces to image users, you either have to build those kinds of mailing lists yourself, or buy them. Building such lists and keeping them up to date is obviously cheaper than paying for them. But, the under appreciated question is whether it is a good use of your limited time to do that work vs. paying someone else to do it for you? I have used both strategies over the years and both have their own pros and cons.

The major sources of mailing lists for purchase are: www.freshlists.com and www.adbase.com. From my limited experience using them they are pretty thorough in gathering information and keeping it up to date.

However, the business of these mailing lists has been changed by the digital revolution, like everything else. Two sites where you can get (and give) information on potential clients are:

www.mediaphonebook.com — Describes itself as “the best place on the web for photographers to exchange information about media companies.”

www.mastheads.org — which describes itself as “a collaborative, community directory project of 635+ magazine staff mastheads (and 1,500+ archived mastheads) built for professional writers, editors, illustrators, photographers, designers, advertisers, creative agencies, and media firms.”

Take a look at both, share whatever information you have on image users and learn from others who are similarly willing to share.

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