Category Archives: Marketing

Thoughts and tips on marketing as well as advice on how professional photography can make a difference with your marketing message

Opportunity ? Storefront art project seeks to attract new businesses downtown

Storefront art project seeks to attract new businesses downtown

This could be a good opportunity for artists in the Dayton area, but the artist needs to consider what his or her expenses are when it comes to printing, framing, displaying, transport, time for set-up and take down, etc., etc. I’m suggesting that individual artists consider the potential return on such an investment.

Sometimes the only results are more requests to donate work for  . . . “exposure,” and on it goes.

This is not to say such results will hold true for other artists. This particular opportunity in Dayton could very well could lead to a prominent installation and profitable print sale. I like to think the quality and originality is what will sell the work, but I have my doubts when it comes to the local “art community.” I’m just suggesting to closely look at upfront expenses and then weigh and measure as to the potential return.

Art is business, no matter what the medium. The individual artist eventually must come to that realization and then press this fact with local art gallery owners, decorators, non-profit organizations, etc. When the local gatekeepers refuse to respond with consideration and respect of the artist as a professional then it’s time to seek victories elsewhere.

Too many times in Dayton I’ve experienced situations where people assume an artist can easily afford to give away his or her work for nothing. Once a particular artist has been labeled as such the damage is done and the local market turns toxic. Lesson learned and time to move on.

But this very well could be worth looking into.

Twitter vs. Facebook or Twitter and Facebook | Fired Up for SummitUp 2010

Fired Up for SummitUp 2010 | davidebowman.

I’m registered to attend the SummitUp event in Dayton, next Tuesday. Quite a line-up of interesting speakers. Lots of marketing and PR-types from throughout Ohio will be attending. So what does it have to do with photography ? Well, if you’re a photographer who has any desire to make a name for yourself and sell your work and services, SummitUp could very well be a treasure trove of pertinent information, as well as contacts, on the realities of marketing and branding for the independent professional in the 21st century. Three words: social media marketing.

But do all the available channels – Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, WordPress, Blogger, etc., etc. – fall conveniently under this catch-all description ? It will be interesting to listen to what the industry experts have to say on what works best when it comes to producing measurable results (actual sales $$$) versus pulling all of us backwards to those painfully insecure days of adolescent popularity contests.

I’m cool with Twitter, okay with LinkedIn but I definitely have a “love/hate/but more toward hate” relationship with Facebook. There’s something inherent to the basic platform and origins of Facebook that is well . . . let’s just say high school. What I do love about Facebook, however, has been the results obtained through the use of their ad program.

I’m a photographer. I’m an observer, not only of what is often overlooked but also patterns and behaviors, in all aspects of life. And the patterns of online behavior observed on these various social media channels is fascinating.

Photography is my profession; my business. I look for results (actual sales $$$). Commercial assignments, portrait sessions, fine art print sales, photography workshops and image licensing. Sure, I have an ego and there are times that I slip too far into the touchy/feely – the nebulous elixir of the artsy-fartsy emphasis on collaboration and everyone feeling good about themselves. That’s nice for social get-togethers at the local gallery, but then the cold, hard reality of cash flow comes calling, again and again.

Which gets back to why I prefer Twitter and why recently I’ve made some changes to my approach toward marketing my work and services via social media marketing. In short, I’m much more comfortable at driving content initially through my Twitter account – where’s there’s more of a clear boundary between what’s business and what’s personal – and THEN flow it to my Facebook business page. Previously I had made the common mistake of welcoming all sorts of “friend requests” on a Facebook personal account and then pumping-out photography business content at an entry point platform that was initially designed more on social acceptance and popularity.

Granted Facebook has been quick to make changes and adapt, moving away from group pages and more toward what I see as business-friendly “fan” pages.

Mashable recently posted a very good op-ed that begins to define the primary difference between Facebook and Twitter, which reinforces the lesson I’ve learned regarding both networking platforms. I’m looking forward to seeing how this will be discussed at SummitUp 2010 next week.

Photography and social media marketing – both a constant learning process. All in all, a good thing.

Tips on the Business of Photography

The following was a response to a Facebook friend and fellow photographer who was asking for advice on pricing and taking his work to the next level, from hobby to part-time endeavor and possibly profession. Some of my comments are unique to the local market here in Dayton, Ohio:

Right off the bat Josh, you’ve got the eye and the talent. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. And don’t allow anyone to tell you what you should be shooting according to what they like. Shoot what you love, and stick to it.

I took a quick glance at the article. Nothing new or surprising there, but it is a good read for those just starting out. As far as assignment and stock licensing rates according to the ASMP guide – forget in a market like Dayton. I say “non-exclusive, limited usage rights” to potential buyers here locally and they don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about. I’m not being mean. It’s just a fact.

Market your work and yourself outside the traditional boundaries. Look for buyers where no one else is looking. The local arts groups are okay for some initial advice, but they can also become a real hindrance and quite limiting. More often than not these groups are very subjective when it comes to who they will support and who they won’t support. Don’t give the so-called “art experts” power of you. Your work is too good to be limited that way.

Outsource your printmaking. Develop a solid, trusting relationship with a commercial lab and stick with them. Don’t get yourself and your money bogged-down with large format inkjet printers, paper, profiles, ink, time, etc. Trust me. It’s not worth it.

Set limits with customers who are only going to buy a print or two. Look at the return on how much time you might put into a sale for say one or two 11″x14″s. That’s what online storefronts are for. There are a lot of people who will devour your time and attention and end-up buying just one print.

Time + talent + skill + expenses + profit = price

I will be going over these and other lessons on the Sunday afternoon of my September workshop at the Inn at Cedar Falls. I’m also going to be doing a half-day program on the business of nature photography on a Saturday in November. Just haven’t confirmed it yet.

Once again Josh, you’ve got the talent and the eye. Don’t sell yourself short. Think outside the boundaries and rules everyone else is playing within. And always stay true to your creative vision.

New Logo Design

Aibrean’s Studio Blog: New Logo Design for Jim Crotty.

April Sadowski is a very talented graphic artist here in the Dayton area. She was a pleasure to work with – professional, thorough and very quick turnaround.

In crafting a new logo identity for my photography business I wanted a design that moved away from the “Ohio” moniker and was more representative of my professional identity as a photographer and visual artist. In my years of being in business for myself, as well as many previous years working in corporate marketing and communications, I’ve learned where my own capabilities stop and where those of an accomplished professional begin. The art of graphic design and logo identity is one area where it’s not smart to attempt on your own. Turn it over to a pro and you will get pro results.

Promoting Photography Online and the Importance of Good Metadata

I like using both awstats and Google Analytics in measuring the traffic and sources for both my main site, http://ohiophoto.org, and my business blog, http://calmphotos.com.

There were over 144,000 hits to CalmPhotos for the month of June alone. I can’t emphasize enough the affordable effectiveness of David Esrati’s Websiteology training program and the power of WordPress for blogging for business.

Never again will I waist one dime on phone directory advertising.

The traffic to OhioPhoto.org – I static site I manage on my own using Rapidweaver and Blue Host – is starting to pick-up in traffic again (17,500 for June versus 23,500 for July), even though it had fallen quite a bit behind CalmPhotos.com. It was interesting to note the top keywords used, via this morning’s Google Analytics report, to access this site:

jim crotty
jim crotty photography
photography workshops in ohio
jim crotty picture ohio
ohio photography workshops
ohio photography
picturesqueohio.com
photography workshop ohio
photography workshops ohio
picturesque ohio

That’s the power of good keywording and cross-linking. I rarely post a web-ready image that I haven’t inserted good meta-data. I do this in both Photoshop CS3 and Apple Aperture, through custom export settings.

It’s well worth the extra effort.

And another advantage to getting up early to check my web stats is the opportunity to step-out on my back porch and capture a scene like this –

Summer Photography in the Colorado Rockies

Just last week I traveled to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with my daughter Emma, age 10. I learned the hard way last summer to make the best of the time I have with my daughters, so this year I planned a special trip with both of them. For Chloe, age eight, it was Washington D.C. last month. For Emma it was the mountains in Colorado. During the school year they live in Texas with their mother, and the winters here in Ohio for me, as a single dad, can be pretty tough. So far this summer is going much better. We’re having a ton of fun and capturing some great photographs.

I didn’t do a lot of my nature and landscape photography while with Emma in Colorado, but she did help me with the filming of another episode in my ongoing video tutorials on photography, this one titled “Alpine Wildflowers and Light Anxiety.” The first half of this segment is a little shaky. My apologies. My camera operator is still learning.

Another topic I wanted to mention is the art and business of the fine art nature gallery. Whenever I visit resort towns, particularly out west, I love to browse the retail galleries of some of the top professional nature and landscape photographers. They’ve got it going on. While we were in Frisco, Colorado we wandered around a bit in the retail gallery of Colorado Photographer Todd Powell. His work is jaw-dropping gorgeous, and in his gallery he does all of his own printmaking and mounting.

Another gallery that just blew me away was that of Tom Mangelsen, located in the terminal of Denver International Airport. WOW ! Incredibly beautiful prints, meticulously composed, captured and edited. Tom raises the bar of excellence for any nature and landscape photographer who aspires to fly in the stratosphere of professional success and accomplishment. Tom Till, Art Wolfe, Jim Brandenburg, John Shaw and David Middleton also rank right up there with the best of the best when it comes to fine art nature and landscape photography.

I would love to have had a successful gallery operation, such as those of any of the above mentioned photographers, here in the Dayton area. I’m confident I have the body of local photographic work as well as the necessary skill, knowledge and equipment for fine art printmaking. In fact I somewhat attempted the effort at my previous retail location, off of Far Hills in Centerville. Sadly I didn’t receive hardly any foot traffic (other than salespeople) until I announced I was closing the store and marking all of my print inventory drastically down. That turned-out to be the confirmation of what I have always suspected to be the case with the local art market.

The problem with Dayton (and for that matter, all of Ohio) is that the market just isn’t there. Fine art print galleries are always most successful in high- dollar, tourist areas, such as in and around the grand vistas and National Parks of the American West. There are some notable exceptions, but the one constant is easy access to customers who 1) have the disposable income to purchase fine art nature and landscape prints, and 2) APPRECIATE and know the skill and artistic talent required to create incredibly striking nature and landscape photography.

It’s a shame because I have discovered Ohio to be rich in scenic locations that translate beautifully into fine art prints, providing buyers of professional nature photography with a unique, local touch to how they decorate homes and offices. Unfortunately here in Dayton the photographers who have achieved that level of skill often get pushed to the side or grouped-in with other visual artists, whether it be at public showings or in galleries. Been there. Done that. It’s not for me.

The best I can do at this point is “build my market” where it doesn’t exist. I think I’m making progress, but I – and the local market – have a long way to go. Perhaps someday.