Simple Marketing Strategies for Photographers

4. Invest in networking before content marketing

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Source: The Content Marketing Institute.

Content marketing means creating blog posts, podcast episodes, and videos as a way of attracting clients. It is all the rage right now and you will hear most marketing consultants say that you need to have a blog, tutorials, a YouTube channel, eBooks, and the like.

While this is certainly true, the problem is that creating those products is not free. Creating quality content for marketing purposes takes an awful lot of time and energy and can often cost a lot of money.

Another problem is that you can start putting out high quality blog posts once a week or more, but in the beginning, nobody will see them. You don’t have an audience yet, and unless you have a huge following on social media, no matter how many times you share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, very few people will click on those shares.

A content marketing strategy takes time, often two to three years, to execute properly and become effective. Remember, the only people who will read it are the people who already know you or those who find it on Google. And these will be very few in the beginning.

If you spent all your available time creating content in hopes of establishing yourself as an authority, you would likely not have enough time for more effective marketing efforts, such as networking.

There’s one more important point about content marketing that bears mentioning: Despite its name, content marketing is not about marketing. It does not mean disguising sales pitches as informative articles. People are not dumb and they will immediately realize you are trying to sell to them under the guise of teaching them. Don’t make this mistake.

So, what do you do instead?

Network like crazy!

And I don’t mean networking in the sense of going to trade shows and exchanging business cards. Nor do I mean having lots of friends on social media. That does not equate to having a good network.

My idea of networking is helping people who are in the same business or in complementary businesses, so that they may help you in return. Establishing direct, one-to-one connections with real people is the most efficient way to grow your business.

Consider contacting the owners of other websites and ask to write a guest post for them. This will establish your authority outside the circle of your direct followers and is also great for networking.

You can also ask some of your friends and contacts you know to be good writers and experts in your field to write content for your site. It takes work off your shoulders and gives them more visibility, so it’s a win-win situation.

Right now, my main content marketing strategy is also a networking strategy, and it revolves around my podcast, The Traveling Image Makers.

Every week I publish a new podcast episode, usually an interview with a travel photographer. Producing a podcast involves selecting a number of potential guests, inviting them, agreeing on a time and date, doing research to prepare meaningful questions, recording the actual interview, editing and uploading the audio, creating the post on the website, and sharing it on social media and in the newsletter. Believe me, it’s a ton of work! But well worth the effort.

So, am I contradicting myself, having just advised you to avoid spending a lot of time and energy on content creation?

Not quite, because an interview show provides many more benefits than either writing articles or doing video tutorials.

For one thing, it positions you as someone who has connections with people that matter in the industry. And, as mentioned, it is also a great networking tool.

Every single one of my guests is someone I’ve established a personal relationship with. In some cases, that relationship has transitioned to a partnership or a business.

Because of my podcast, I have come to know Robin Yong, who has become my partner in the photography workshops I organize every year at the Carnival of Venice.

I have also met Ralph Velasco, who I first interviewed and later invited to be my co-host. He invited Chris Smith as a guest, and Chris then invited me to speak at the Out Of Chicago Photography Conference.

And I am frequently in contact with other guests of the podcast, and I make every effort to meet them in person whenever I can. I firmly believe in the power of personal connections.

Finally, some of my listeners have become clients of my tours and workshops.

If you want to do some serious content marketing now, my suggestion is to start by doing an interview podcast.

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