Identify Your Target Audience
- [Colby] All right, so who is your target audience? First off, why should we care? Why does our target audience matter? As we've spoken about a little bit, the idea is that the content you're sharing is conducive to the following that you've developed, and from a target audience standpoint, the idea is that everything that you're sharing is...people want to engage with it because, again, there's two sides to this fence... well, there's three sides technically. So you're creating something and you're sharing it out there, you have followers that are hopefully interested in what you're doing, and then the algorithms, and the algorithms are determining what people are seeing. So the other people have to actually be interested in what you're saying, of course, but you also have to...the algorithms also have to work with you to showcase that to them. But if there is a disconnect between one of those three, then that's why your engagement is so low or your reach is so low. So creating quali...
ty content, as we talked about, is important, and then having followers that are interested in it is the key piece that connects the three points. If they're not interested in what you're doing, then they're not going to engage even if they do see it, and then the more they engage, Facebook or Instagram or whatever the algorithms are going to sit there and say, "Oh, they want to see more of it," and then more people engage with it, they're going to show it to different people and it'll snowball from there. So from a photography perspective, the different target market audiences can vary depending on the type of work that you do and what you need to... what we need to do is we have to figure out what is really the target market audience for most of the genres out there. And again, everyone's going to be a little bit different, so these are general ideas based on a lot of the stuff that we've talked about but we're actually finally writing them down. So, landscape and nature photographers. Art directors, interior designers, again, these are people that you can connect out and reach out to for a target audience in order to hopefully sell prints at a larger scale. Gallery owners and managers, these are, again, people that you can try to network with in order to try to get work out there. Now, I will be honest in saying that galleries generally don't make a lot of money anymore these days. Most the time, galleries will actually be charging to hang whatever you're trying to hang. But there are some people that do find success with them. And print sales, so print sales are unique to landscape and travel photographers, or landscape and nature photographers. Why is that? What is the reason that one of us would be willing to hang a print inside our walls? For most people, most people that purchase prints, they have to have that direct connection. There's some piece, there's some...there has to be a reason why they want it on there. Unless it's a piece of abstract art, which you may photograph, but if it's a place, if it's a place like Patagonia like this image right here, what would cause you to purchase that? For a lot of people, it would be the fact that they would have to have visited there before or have maybe their great-grandfather went and they always wanted a keepsake, a reminder, whatever it is, there's a connection. And so the challenge for nature and landscape photographers that want to sell prints, especially online, is the idea that you need to figure out what those connections are to the work that you're shooting. And something that Darren White talked about in the last section that I don't think I mentioned was the fact that Darren doesn't sell images from places that are hard to get because he's found that the connections that he's found with his clients and the customers that purchase his prints are generally people that have been to these locations. So he might go to a unique place and it's one of his favorite images, it took three days to hike to and do all this stuff, but no one's going to buy it because no one has a connection to it. It will never be one of his bestsellers. So, leveraging the idea of connection and location to a subject is huge because if you're looking for a target market audience and, say, you live around an area...you live up here in the Pacific Northwest, so maybe you want to go and you have a ton of images from Mount Rainier. So, generally, who you think you're going to try to market those images to? People that live around here maybe, but there's probably saturation in the market. But people that have been here, so you have to try to find people, find ways to find those connections that are pulling people in. Now, you can certainly grow your audience organically and you're going to find probably individuals that are interested in these types of...the idea of these trips or the connections wrapped around some of your subjects, that's what Darren did, it was organic, he didn't actively go out, he actually doesn't pay for ads. I didn't mention that before, Darren doesn't like to pay for ads, he likes to build things organically and he's been fortunate, probably more so than most photographers, at least in terms of print sales to be able to sell enough to make a good living based on his organic growth. But for a lot of people, this is the struggle, this is why people don't want to buy your stuff. Again, a lot of people...it's interesting from a photographer standpoint because what happens when we go online? We're all photographers and we try to connect with other photographers, right? So most of us are connected, some of you guys have probably reached out and connected with me, I know some people that are viewing...that are watching have connected with me personally on different social platforms. That's great, I love the connection. Of course, it helps my business model but I still love that connection. Now, some of you guys might be interested in this, the idea of selling prints, and then all of a sudden, I'm seeing your marketing ads or your ads or your posts for people to buy prints. No offense, but I don't want to buy your prints, I have my own prints, I have my own work. And so, photographers that sell...that are online that are trying to sell prints and their audience is generally other photographers, that's the struggle, that's where people have that disconnect. And I mentioned this before but so many people reach out to me constantly and say, "I want to get into landscape and travel photography, I see that's what you do. How do I sell prints?" And the first question that usually comes back is, "Well, who are you connecting with? Who are you reaching out to?" And for most photographers that are nature and landscape photographers, they're simply constantly saying, "Oh, here's another landscape photographer. Here's another landscape photographer. Here's a nature photographer." Those people don't want to give you money, plain and simple. So you need to find new ways to market the stuff that you have based on finding these connections, the people that are connected to the location or subject of what you're photographing or people that are interested in photography if you happen to be interested in the idea of photo education. But for this main one, this is, again, a core concept and something that I'm still surprised, that most people haven't grasped for the hundreds of emails I generally get in a given month asking for print...asking about print sales. You want print sales? You have to find the right market audience. The target market audience for what you want is people-connected and you need to photograph things generally wrapped around the idea of beautiful locations that have a large tourist draw. It's just the truth. Most photographers that I knew that do quite well selling prints including people like Darren White are located in locations or at least extensively shoot subjects that have a higher propensity for those types of interests or connections and most photographers within this realm don't see that, and so then they get frustrated. They say, "Hey, I've grown up 20,000 followers on Instagram but no one's buying my prints," but they're disconnected with all of us. Like I said, most of us don't want to buy prints from other photographers. Every once in a while, I do, to be fair. I get a couple in one of the bathrooms of my house from some friends and whatnot, but it's not something to survive on. So anyway, something to think about if you're selling prints, you're a nature photographer, try to think about finding those connections. Again, problem of a customer, the idea is to solve problems, so your customer has a connection to a photo and wants something that reminds them of an experience they had, you're trying to solve that. The challenge is just finding them. So wedding and portrait photographers. Brides, pretty self-explanatory, brides get married. Grooms, two grooms, two brides, whatever. All the same, people getting married, doesn't matter. Those are individuals you want to look for, you can interact and engage with places like Pinterest and whatnot, find people or find areas where there's a higher propensity of that. Again, Pinterest has 79% women, it's pretty big. Or 71%. Wedding vendors, again, we talked about this with Jose Villa. So you're a wedding and portrait photographer, connecting with vendors that might be tied to that stuff is pretty big. Now, if you're doing portrait work, maybe it's models, maybe it's something else, but the idea that you can sit there and create...or you can create connections and harness the networking ability of working with other companies that are tied to what you're trying to do I think is huge. Bridal publication editors, again, great excuse to use things like LinkedIn, who are the editors for these magazines? How can you get featured? How can you get a lucky...not a lucky break, how can you get a break such as Jose Villa did, the hard work that he put into getting recognized by
Martha Stewart Weddings magazine? Put forth the effort, figure out who you need to talk to. Again, this is a constant theme: good things don't just happen to good people, I'm sorry. You have to put forth the effort, you have to create the quality content, you have to make the connections with the people that are interested in providing monetary value for the services you're willing to offer. Music and event photographers...oh, well, that's not right, I had that copied. Okay. Music and event photographers, those aren't accurate. I don't know why that was copied over, maybe I didn't check. Music and event photographers, you can be looking for bands, so you can connect with the local bands using things like Twitter which they're highly active on. You can look for companies or entities that represent the bands, it's a great way to get in. Similar to the idea of a market...of connecting with a marketing firm if you're doing marketing pitches, instead of connecting directly with a company, you're directing with a company that represents a lot of people, it's great. You could also connect with publications. Again, LinkedIn, who are the editors for your local newspapers, bigger magazines? Most people don't know who they need to connect to, so start somewhere. Send out an email, send out a cold email if you have to. Make a phone call, "Who do I need to talk to about getting published?" And remember, the idea that getting published isn't necessarily about making money directly because publications generally don't have that much money anymore, advertising has changed. They don't have it, they don't have as large of a viewer base, so they have to figure out ways to cut cost and a lot of times, sadly, that comes from photographers. So hopefully, you get paid something but I constantly leverage the idea of publications that reach out to me and say, "Hey, we don't have any budget," and I'm like, "Okay, you don't have any budget. Well, that's unfortunate. This is why it's unfortunate, I make a living doing this, but instead, you're going to promote one of my workshops." I actually just did that two days ago. A company reached out, online publication, sit there and said, "Hey, we love one of your images of Patagonia. We want to use it." I came back and I said, "Cool, sounds like you don't have a budget, am I right?" And they're like, "Yeah, sorry, things are really tight right now." Excuse always happens and I don't want to fight it because I don't really care honestly about $150 that they may or may not pay, but I wanted to use their publication and their arm which might have followers or people that are engaged that don't know who I am. And sit there and say, "Hey, I got two spots left from my Patagonia workshop coming up in a few months." I charge $4,500 for each one of those workshops, so if I get one person to sign up for one of those workshops out of this, that's more than they'd ever pay me anyway. So why do I care? Why does it matter to me? And some people might look at that and say, "You're degrading the value of photographers, the value of images." It's not reality anymore, it's not the reality in the space we live in, I'm sorry, but it's a different world. And we'll get into talking about things about copyrights and other things down the road about my idea of spreading things wide and far, but the reality is that the industry has changed and nothing is going to get it to go back to what it used to be. So as I talked about in terms of the surfing analogy, are you going to be a photographer that is constantly fighting the waves, fighting the changes that are happening within the industry? Or are you going to sit there and look at the waves as opportunities and you're going to learn to ride them? It's an interesting question or it's an interesting topic to talk about, but leveraging things that have changed or shifted that might not be as monetarily, financially feasible anymore for other companies that could work with you, into ways that can be exponentially valuable for you is how most photographers find their success. At least photographers that I know. So humanitarian photographers, let's keep going on. NGOs, if you're trying to get into advocacy work, who are the local NGOs? I guarantee you, at least in terms of...again, humanitarian work doesn't pay that well but they're starving for quality content, starving. So you find a local NGO that is doing interesting things, reach out to them, I guarantee you, for the most part, depending on if what they're doing is super-sensitive, "We'll be happy to have your help," and what you can do is you can work with that on a local level, build up a portfolio, and try to do bigger or larger projects. I know a lot of photographers that want to do travel photography work and maybe they're not even interested in making money, maybe they're retired, they've done something else or they do something else on the side, but the idea of doing humanitarian almost like volunteer work through photography is huge. That's a lot of what we do with The Giving Lens. We take teams of photographers to places, we become the middlemen for that, but you can also do it on your own. So you can take the idea of connecting with NGOs and doing good work, just know that you're probably not going to get paid a ton of money. Now, publication editors are also great, again, remember for advocacy, you're trying to get far...advocacy means the idea that you're advocating for a cause or for an entity. And this not necessarily just publication editors but this is how Benjamin Von Wong does all of his stuff. Again, he creates high-concept stuff that, yes, people want to engage with, but he will spend days writing PR releases and emailing publications and calling local news stations and doing all the hard legwork to try to sit there and say...everyone wants content, there's the idea that publications or publication entities not just for images and words are...that they don't want your stuff. They want content, that's how they survive. The idea is to find the right places to push things out, and so if you're doing humanitarian work, you'd want to get the widest audience you can to advocate for these causes that are passionate to you. Press agencies. Again, the idea of reaching out to different types of publications and sitting there and saying, "Hey, I have an interesting story for you. Here's some awesome content, here's a bunch of stuff. Let's do an interview, let's do something." Trust me, their editors want some of this stuff. As long as it's quality content, you're going to find some successes out there through it. Not everyone's going to want it but you're going to find some successes. And photo educators, again, self-explanatory. One of the reasons I moved into photo education, being at least a portion of what I do, is because there are so many photographers out there, so I'm constantly trying to engage with as many of you guys as possible because that's essentially my market audience. For online publications also, I'm trying to push my stuff out there as I just mentioned, the idea of working with publications in manners or ways where I'll get paid maybe a little bit of money here or there, but mostly I'm trying to use them...because they're using me for my content, so I'm going to use them in order to push the stuff that I want out there. Social media influencers, social media and social marketing managers. Again, this is great if you want to become a brand influencer. If you have a little bit of a following, if you have some sense of a following, a lot of companies do you want to work with you. Now, a lot of them don't pay well but you might be able to figure out ways to offset costs, camera gear, get free things, and maybe that will build into a larger relationship but these are generally the people you want to talk to you when you use things like LinkedIn. You want to sit there and reach out and say, "Hey, I have an idea." Even if you don't have a following, maybe you have a good idea, maybe you have a...you're working on a project, you're going to go on a trip somewhere. Reaching out to these individuals that represent different companies, you may or may not want to establish a relationship with, get free gear from, get paid from are places generally where the conversation starts. A lot of these places now have budgets, which is great. So, something to think about. Marketing firms, as I mentioned before, is really easy...or is much easier avenue to go to because generally marketing firms represent a lot of people. A lot of the marketing content I do these days or marketing campaigns are wrapped around the idea that I've worked with a lot of these marketing firms before, so those firms I will be a repeat client for them but I'm constantly working for new clients on the other side. So I've created a positive campaign, it's been a great business experience with a new marketing firm, three months later, they might say, "Hey, we have this project with so-and-so, you're a good fit. Would you do this? Can you send in a bid?" That happens all the time. - [Man 1] You use the term "organic" a lot, could you explain what that means? Having to do with promoted posts. - Organic? Yes. So, organic in terms of social media is essentially the idea that the growth is naturally occurring. So what I mean by that is that you're not necessarily going in there and paying for followers, you're not paying for fake followers, that's inorganic growth and those fake followers don't really interact with your stuff anyway. If you're going through, for example, on Instagram, you've got some success, Instagram puts you on their Suggested User List. That's inorganic because you've been promoted up and you're getting larger followers but they aren't highly engaged. Organic, generally in terms of what we're talking about a lot of the time is for growth and that just means that you are going through the process of organic building relationships and then letting that grow exponentially through those relationships rather than some third party or some outside entity helping boost up what you're doing. - Cool. One more. - Yeah. - To start, is it acceptable to post a handful of pics on Instagram or would you feed them out slowly? In other words, post eight photos so that there's something there for people to look at or would you just post one at a time? - One at a time. - Okay. - Always stagnant it out, that as soon as you start doing stuff in succession where you sit there and say, "Here's a photo, here's a photo, here's a photo," by the time you get to that second generation, that second tier, your follower drop-off is 70% a lot of the time. So I would sit there and I'd sit there. For Instagram, I would limit it down to maybe three to five if you had to. I'd do probably three, two to three, in, say, morning, afternoon, evening. It's a good balance, you're getting different types of followers, different types of engagement, don't obviously post the same photo but change it up and you can do this on a lot of different networks but definitely stagnate it out. If you do it in succession, you're not going to get paid for it. Three questions, yes. - [Man 2] I just had a follow-up question to that. Say that you're starting your Instagram...so just to put it more in context of my company, I have a personal Instagram account but we're starting a company account because I've had a lot of brand confusion with personal stuff versus professional. I have a decent following on my business's Facebook page, so as I'm thinking about starting our business Instagram...and I think that's why that question really spoke to me is, I've been wondering, should I post 10 photos while I don't have any followers and then start telling people, "Hey, I've got this new account, follow me there"? I'd just love your thoughts on that. - That's not a...that's actually a good question. Okay, so if the question is wrapped around that context, my opinion changes-ish and the reason I say that is that you will get growth, people will be finding it, slowly but surely, and the question you have to ask yourself is what two scenarios do you...which is your ideal scenario? Is the ideal scenario that people come look at your page and see 10 images that have 0 interactions? Or is it that they have 2 photos but there's 5 to 10 interactions? To me, again, empty restaurant syndrome, I'm more of a fan of...I'd rather see one or two photos with some engagement personally. That doesn't necessarily say that opinion has a ton of merit, it's just that I think pushing it out there slowly and getting engagement per post I think is going to be important. That being said, if you go the opposite, obviously, it's going to be a very short window of people might being like, "Oh, there's nothing here," or there's no engagement and you can quickly get by that, so it just depends on what you're comfortable with. If you're okay with people sitting there and seeing your images, seeing 10 images as you're trying to push people to your Instagram page, I don't see the harm in it but it's up to your discretion on what you feel is okay in terms of that brand preference. Both of them have positive and negatives, so not a direct answer but hopefully, it gives you something to think about. Question? Oh, let's do back first and then... Yep. - [Woman] How do you balance having multiple target audiences on one Instagram account, especially a lot of the photographers you mentioned and yourself have different revenue streams? So it just seems like it's so varied, how would you target all... - It's a good question, so how do we have...how do we balance having varied target market audiences because we have diversified revenue streams? The reality is, is that we use networks differently. So Instagram has a different valuation for me, so Instagram I'm not using to connect with some of those target market audiences, I'm not using Instagram to find marketing firms. I'm going to use LinkedIn for that. Instagram I might be using for filling workshops or selling products or something, selling tutorials, and so I will build things around that idea. Even if I'm changing genres where I'm sitting there and saying, "Hey, I want to do some humanitarian stuff," as I mentioned, I might sit there and post out some of that content and direct people through an ad to get there, people that are following
National Geographic to get there so that when I do post that stuff, it is getting promoted and it's not hurting anything else that I'm doing. But ultimately, it's the idea that each different network has different market demographics by themselves, you'll have different people in Instagram than you do on Facebook, and that I want to leverage each of those networks based on where I see the valuation for who I'm trying to reach. Now, I might be able to sell prints, say, on Instagram, but that might not be my focus, I'd rather do it for this, so I'm not necessarily looking at each network and saying, "I need to hit these seven target market audiences." I'm trying to wheel that down and leverage each of the different platforms for the value that I see it brings to the work that I'm doing.