Marketing Matters: The Basics
You have a portfolio that you've labored over, you understand your position in the marketplace (technically, stylistically, and in terms of which subjects you want to shoot and locations you want to work in), and you're ready to get your name out there. But where do you start?
Think about the channels through which you'd like to promote yourself. We suggest a multi-prong approach with a combination of email (mass emails, personal outreach), direct mail, social (organic, paid, personal outreach), SEO (organic, paid), networking events, portfolio reviews, and guest contributions to industry blogs. Have at the very least two channels (one virtual, one physical), but the more channels you can afford without sacrificing quality, the better.
Once you decide channels to promote your work through, you'll need to think about your audience, especially if it's one you can control. Think about the company types that your work would be a fit for (i.e., ad agencies, magazines, in-house corporate for big brands) and the job titles you want to promote to. Everyone is looking to target the decision-makers (art directors, creative directors, art producers, photo editors). Still, there's also value in targeting the influencers (creative assistants, graphic designers, copywriters) as they may have the flexibility and freedom to consider the potential in emerging talents.
It may be tempting to send to everyone at every company that you can think of. By doing that, you run the risk of appearing irrelevant and uninformed if you don't tailor your promotions to your audience. A consequence of not being relevant is that your email is more likely to get marked as spam, affecting future campaigns' deliverability.
Consider elements, like your copy and design, to enhance and inform your assets and talent. Keep it concise, keep it clean, and hire out if you feel that you need to. A cluttered email design or long-winded project explanation can work against you.
While big corporations can get away with sending emails daily or weekly, they're working with a larger audience than you likely will. They can take the gamble on sending lots of emails to hedge their bets on maximizing their conversions. An email a month, with a direct mail follow up to the people who engaged with your campaign (opens & clicks) quarterly, is an excellent template to start with.
It's tempting to think you could send one email promotion and land a job and be set right off the bat. That expectation is not realistic. Marketing is a continued effort: build brand awareness, drive traffic, and lockdown conversions. Just like hiring an accountant and balancing your books once wouldn't set you up for life, neither would a single promotion. It's essential to be consistent. A few promotions sent sporadically throughout the year likely won't help you hit your goals either. You'll need a few impressions consistently and continually to build awareness about your brand and business.
Reflect and adjust
Your promotion could be altered to improve results (i.e., your audience, your creative or your call-to-action), adjust, and experiment until you start to see the results you want. There's no one way to do it to succeed. It's all trial & error.
Seek help if you're unsure. Most artists received little to no business/marketing training in school. Connect with a friend/mentor with up-to-date industry experience, a creative consultant, or a marketing organization if you're unsure how to get started. The goal is to build you up so that your marketing machine can run and keep running on all cylinders - leaving space and funding to fuel your creative passions.