I rarely write posts like this. Usually I tell you what I think you SHOULD do, but once in a while it's easier to make a point this way. If you want to be successful at marketing your photography, do NOT do these things…
1. Don’t get caught imitating other photographers in the market
This is a surefire way to wipe away your credibility. It's also a fast track to becoming a commodity. If you're just like everyone else, then there's no incentive to hire you. Be yourself. Period.
2. Watch out when selling “packages”
I know, everyone does it. Everyone sells a "package." This is again the fastest route to becoming a commodity. If everyone has a package that includes XXX 8x10" prints, XXX wall portraits and XXX albums, then the person with the cheapest package wins. Professionals sell their vision, their service, creative fees, etc. NOT packages.
3. Don’t work for free unless you are literally brand new
Quick, name three people you know who work for free? NOBODY works for free. Why should we? Unless TODAY is your first day and I mean your first day on the job, don't work for free. You have my permission to work for free for two weeks if you're brand new. Build up some experience. Then start charging SOMETHING. "Oh but Scott I'll get exposure." Try paying your rent with that.
4. Don’t become a commodity
I've talked about it above but it deserves its own category. This is the fastest way to starve I know. If a Diet Coke is $1 at the place on the left and $1.24 at the place on the right, you'll buy it at the place on the left because a Diet Coke is a Diet Coke is a Diet Coke is a Diet Coke is a Diet Coke is a Diet Coke. It's all the same. If you allow people to view your photography as the same as the person's photography down the street all you have left is bottom feeding, and competing on price. Not fun.
5. Don’t conspire w/other photographers to fix prices
It's against the law. It may seem like a good idea at the time. It may be something "everyone does," but it's a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and it carries stiff penalties. If you're not good enough or confident or professional enough to figure out your own pricing you belong somewhere else.
6. Don't use day rates if you can avoid it
How many doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals do you know who charge day rates?
7. Don't concentrate on what you have for sale
Instead concentrate on why you sell it. People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Illustration Credit: © kentoh - Fotolia.com