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The essentials: 8 effective and free ways to market yourself as a photographer

1 year ago

How important are Instagram followers? Should you send a regular newsletter to keep your contacts engaged? What are the best keywords and how much time should you be spending on Search Engine Optimization? How to market yourself as a photographer is rarely given enough focus but is key to boosting a successful career. We look at 8 ways you can leverage your work without spending a penny.  

© Hugh Fox, United Kingdom, 1st Place, Professional competition, Portfolio, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


Before you put any precious time aside to market yourself (let’s face it, the more time you have to take pictures the better!) make sure you have a clear idea of what makes your photography distinctive - in other words, really take the time to clarify what your brand is. It’s a challenging task so we’ve put together a few questions to help you on your way: 

  • What sets your work apart from the majority?
  • Think of three words that describe your photographic practice? 
  • What photographers do you feel have a strong brand and ask yourself why. 

© Hugh Fox, United Kingdom, 1st Place, Professional competition, Portfolio, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


One of the most beneficial ways to get your name and work out there is to be present on social media. You have a clear photographic style and you know what you want to communicate visually, so you’ll be great at transferring your aesthetic into social content. Set yourself a goal and try to post at least three times a week. If your bandwidth is minimal one day, share a news article or post relating to your expertise on Instagram Stories. Plus, we hear YouTube Shorts might well be the next big thing, so why give it a go? Start to become searchable.

© Serena Dzenis, Australia, Shortlist, Professional competition, Architecture & Design, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


Make a list of the competitions (the Sony World Photography Awards is open now!), publications (print and online), and communities where your work could be featured. Could you approach a photography collective for an Instagram takeover perhaps? From pitching a lead magazine feature to a local group exhibition, embrace all potential platforms to widen your exposure and impact. If you do get your work published, make sure you keep you don’t give away all of your pictures for free and a fully credited. Set yourself boundaries and make sure you’re financially rewarded for your work.  


© Havard Bjelland, Norway, Shortlist, Professional competition, Documentary Projects, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


As well as regular check-ins with past, present and potential clients (a friendly email that lands in people’s inboxes every now and again might lead to a job), why not set up a newsletter to keep your contacts updated with your activity? Regularity is key, so taking time to send an email once a month to communicate your successes will leverage your opportunities and credibility. If time is tight, take a look at the yearly calendar and pick out four key days to send out communications - World Photography Day is the perfect time to get in touch.

© Mihails Ignats, Latvia, Shortlist, Professional competition, Landscape, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


Are there any opportunities where you can speak publicly? Find those potential opportunities to share your ideas and opinions in a professional space. What topic would you speak about? Who would you speak to? In-person or online find a peer to have an interesting conversation that your audience would enjoy listening to. Why don’t you give the Instagram Live feature a go or you could even record a webinar and post it on YouTube. 

© Marlena Waldthausen, Germany, Shortlist, Professional competition, Portfolio, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


If you can create a 12-month strategy then it’ll help you to focus and stay motivated. Set out your key goals and when you’d like to achieve them. If you miss the mark once or twice then try and evaluate why – was it the time you were posting your images on Instagram? Should you think about collating them into a reel? Have you got that Editor’s current email address? If you hit your target then it’s a good excuse to treat yourself to a new photobook…

© Luca Locatelli, Italy, Shortlist, Professional competition, Portfolio, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


Who could you work with from the industry to broaden your creative scope? Collate a list of existing peers and those you’d love to work with. Try approaching them with an idea for a collaborative personal project and see where it takes you. 

© Sara Goli, Iran, Islamic Republic Of, Shortlist, Professional competition, Portfolio, 2022 Sony World Photography Awards


And last but by no means least, putting some time aside to make sure your website is SEO friendly will help boost the ranking of your website. Keep a blog and maintain it frequently (you don’t need to write a novel each time, just 500 words entries will do) and choose the titles of your web pages and keywords carefully. Set up Google Analytics so you can see how well your keywords are performing.