Filling Needs and Putting Yourself in Other People’s Shoes – Marketing for Photographers

Filling Needs and Putting Yourself in Other People's Shoes

Often to be able to show your work to a potential audience you will have to go through a gatekeeper. Someone else will decide whether they want to share your work or your words with their network, fans, readers, and clients.

You will constantly be at the mercy of others, and so you have to think smart about how you will contact these people.

How would you react if a random person contacted you for the first time and asked for a favor out of the blue? There is a good chance you might disregard the request because you did not have the time and did not know the person. Now imagine if you had ten strangers all asking you for favors.

Most people would rather spend their time doing favors for friends instead of strangers.

However, think about how you would react if this same person contacted you for the first time offering to fill a need or to help you out in some way. You would probably be much more receptive. Here is someone you have never met before who already understands what you do and has a good idea for how to make your life easier. By the first email, you would have the impression that this person is both conscientious and professional.

Research the organizations, and learn more about those you will be contacting. Explore their work, and get a better sense of their interests. Think about what you can potentially offer that would be a value-add or fill a need. How can you make their life and job easier? The people that have the ability to be a gatekeeper for your success are busy, and some of them receive a lot of contact from creatives in similar situations with similar pitches. As a result, be respectful, identify a need, and offer to fill this void. Better yet, think about something that they are missing and offer to do it for them.

The people that have the ability to be a gatekeeper for your success are busy, and some of them receive a lot of contact from creatives in similar situations with similar pitches. As a result, be respectful, identify a need, and offer to fill this void. Better yet, think about something that they are missing and offer to do it for them.

There are some websites that strictly show the work of photographers and creatives. In this case, create a selection of work that you think the owner will respond toand show those to them. If you send a pitch and only link to your website for them to then search through, it will take time and work to sift through to find what they like. Save them this effort by sending them a tight edit of what you think they will want to see. Tell them you have created a selection of your work that you think they will like, and either send them a link to that gallery or include the work in the email.

Many websites will need interesting topics covered, from targeted lists to long form articles. Go through and read their content before you make a pitch. See what common themes or topics they cover, and find an interesting angle on something that they have not yet covered. Craft your words to their style and standards.

Pitching in this way will show that you are prepared and that you are either a fan of the website or you are willing to put the work in to help them. Sometimes I will pitch a particular idea to a site, and other times I will do all of the work ahead of time and send a completed article to see if they have interest. If it is a strong piece, consistent with their mission, and already completed, it will be tougher for them to pass over and disregard. If it is passed on, you can use the article elsewhere.

Imagine that you own a successful website that you started from scratch and built up slowly over the course of many years. Then one day, you get an email from someone you have never heard of before trying to pitch you a general idea. They write a message like, Hey, can I write you an article about photography marketing? Even if that person has read your site every day, it would seem like they found you out of the blue and just wanted a link on your website.

On the other hand, if they wrote:

Hi James,

Im a photographer based out of New York. I know that you write a lot of content about marketing photography. I have learned a lot of great techniques from you, particularly (insert how they helped you), so thank you for helping improve my business. (If you have not followed the person, do not lie to them. It will be evident.)

I have an interesting angle that I have not seen you cover about working with local blogs that I use very successfully. Working with them is a great way to do something for the community, while simultaneously getting your name out there and showing your abilities. Would you be interested in having me write an article for you on this topic, or perhaps a synopsis for your initial review? Here is a link to my portfolio and two links to articles showing my writing style.

Thanks so much!

How much more professional does this sound? This is a reliable person that you want to work with.

If you cannot fill a need, then perhaps you are not ready to contact them just yet. There is no rush. Wait until you have something meaningful for them. You do not want to waste your chance for a good first impression. There are a few initial contacts that I approached incorrectly before I knew what I was doing, and I wish I could have them back.