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Marketing 101

Lesson 46 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

46. Marketing 101

Your portfolio doesn't do much good if no one is actually laying eyes on it. Develop strategies to get your work in front of potential clients for editorial and commercial work.
Next Lesson: What About Reps?


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Introduction to The Environmental Portrait


Environmental Portrait Purpose


Personal Work


Find Your Process




Purpose For Action Editorial


Prepare for Shoot


Lesson Info

Marketing 101

And we're going to talk about marketing. So, we've gone over the portfolio, we've gone over the website, those are kind of your key outlets to putting your work out there. The next thing is marketing and it's 101 because I'm not a 500 level teacher here, I only know a little bit about marketing and what works for me. So, you need people to know you exist. That's the only way to get hired. If you create all this great work and it's in a vacuum, no one's gonna be able to hire you because they've never seen it. So, getting yourself out there, get eyeballs on your work. Whether this means going to portfolio reviews, whether this means calling up all the local ad agencies in your area and asking for a sit down, I just did this, recently I went to an ad agency I've been wanting to meet with, I brought in a dozen really good doughnuts, brought my portfolio, I called them up and I said I'd love to come in and meet, you know, your photo team, whether it's the art producers, the art directors, ...

creative directors, anybody like that and the guy I spoke with said great, how about 9:30 next Wednesday? So, Wednesday morning, I thought all right, well, they're taking the time to bring me into their place, I'm gonna bring them a dozen doughnuts, I even left my dog in the car and one of the girl's at the agency said, I follow you on Instagram, where's that puppy? And he happened to be in the car so that was a bonus so I got to bring him in but getting those eyeballs on the work, so forcing, you know, forcing myself to get out there and I call ad agencies all the time and I'm always suggesting, or not call but email, it's kind of frowned upon. Cold calling used to be more of a thing, now it's kind of more annoying. I feel like when people answer the phone and they're not expecting you to be calling, it's kind of a turnoff so, I was just email and let them know what I'm trying to do. A lot of times you'll never hear back but I feel like that's just business, I'll wait a couple weeks and I'll send a slightly similarly worded email and suggest the same thing and eventually usually you'll get in the door. The other thing I'll do is I'll send out actual print promos whether they're single postcards or a little more elaborate type print outs, it's kind of a miniature version of your portfolio. You can get lists through companies like Agency Access and things like that that have lists of all the people that work at ad agencies all over the world, really, it's just a matter of how much you wanna pay and you can really change the search you're doing to navigate it down, to narrow it down, to who you wanna work with. Let's say you're looking for ad agencies in Texas who specialize in, you know, business, computers, electronics and that stuff, these are all boxes you can check when searching through a site like Agency Access and it'll give you all the names and companies of ad agencies that work with those companies and it's something, it's not the cheapest thing in the world but its a great way to get information. I think there's another one called like Keenie List or something like that. Kind of an odd name but worth Googling. And they do a similar type of list and there's probably other ones out there but I've used Agency Access before. I don't currently use it but I used that to make my email list and know how to reach out to people and get meetings and things like that. So, getting those eyeballs on your work, that's important. The next thing is, portfolio reviews, meetings, and promos. We pretty much just talked about that, so, not much need to go into that any further. And another thing a lot of photographers do is you get meetings out of town and usually there's a sense of urgency there that really helps you finish your portfolio as we were talking before about finishing up your book. I'll plan a trip to Portland and I'll know, okay, I'm going to Portland on June 1st, I'm going to set up, three weeks before, I'm gonna email all these ad agencies and I'm just gonna go for two nights and it's gonna be fully a business trip and I'm gonna see how many meetings I can get with different ad agencies or people I wanna work with in Portland or maybe it's Detroit or maybe it's Austin, Texas. These places that have advertising firms and you can go do the same thing, bring them some doughnuts, bring them coffee, take them out to lunch, maybe offer to go for drinks at night, so they can get to know you because I feel like a lot of the challenge, there's so many photographers out there that create great work. The separation in actually getting the work is having the personality to work with somebody. I know I've worked on a few jobs, whether it was my own job or working with Victoria Will on a couple jobs where we've had some where the photos were definitely secondary to the fact that they were gonna have to work with you for 10 days and they wanted to make sure that you were someone that was cooperative, collaborative, not gonna have an ego, not gonna be a pain, just do the work, get it done, and a lot of times they see so many great photos on the internet everyday but being able to put a face to those photos and have a personality that they think oh yeah, this guy's pretty cool, I wanna work with him or I wanna work with her is great so that's why meetings are important because you can get in front of people, let them see your personality, let them know what it is you have to offer in addition to the work. So, it's all about finding that right fit and not everybody, you know, just like we don't get along with everybody we meet on the street, not everybody's a good fit. You might think you love the work added to you but you might meet with them and think oh yeah, I don't really like how he said that or how she acted or anything like that so sometimes it's like eh, I'm not gonna pursue that right now but the other thing with the ad world is there's a lot of turnover, people are constantly moving from one agency to another, so I always follow back and that's why it's also important to keep up on those email lists because a lot of times I'll send out an email, I think I have 5,000 people on my list over the years. I'll send out an email six weeks from now and I'll have 80 people bounce their emails and it's because 80 of those 5,000 in the next six weeks will get a new job and their email will no longer be relevant, so, it's always important to kind of follow. LinkedIn's pretty good for that to kind of pay attention to where people go. I have certain names that I've definitely target based on the type of work they create. It feels like they hire photographers who do similar things to me and I know that just by looking at campaigns they worked on in the past. A lot of art directors have their own websites outside of their agency because a lot of them will go freelance for a little while if they're in between jobs and they like to show, hey, I did all the art direction on this campaign or that campaign so when I can see on LinkedIn an art director or a creative director who has a website, I always check it out and think oh, they look like someone who would hire me, I'm gonna go follow them on Instagram and hopefully they follow me back and all of a sudden I'm on their radar. So, again, it's all about getting the eyeballs on your work because, without that, it's impossible to get hired. And the last thing is the email promos. If we could switch back over to my computer one last time, I'm gonna show you a sample of one of my email promos. So, again, I said I send these out every, eh, it's kind of, it's basically every other month. So, this is kind of a crude screenshot of an email. You'll see I do two and some people I'm sure you'll get some comments about this, I do two different versions of an email. I send every email out twice. This can be spammy by some people but I changed it up enough that I've never had a complaint so this is just what I do. This was my email that I sent out in December. It was kind of an end of the year recap of all the photos and the shoots I had that year. So, again, this was, where it says test, take that out 'cause this was the subject heading. 92 photo shoots, 44 flights, one new website. Countless beers. So it gives a little bit into my personality. I love going to breweries when I'm on these shoots and doing that. So, all of this is clickable and links back to my website. It's just a few of the photos from the year. Kind of in a story format. It's a little bit about it. 2017 was another busy year. Blah, blah, blah. Tells a little bit about how I launched a new website, a couple of the clients I worked with, all my contact information and direct links to my social media, a few more photos from the year. Again, they're all clickable directly back to my website. And that's it. So, it's simple. It loads pretty quickly, they're all low-res images, they're like 900 pixels wide at 72 DPI, and that's all set up through MailChimp. So, MailChimp is a mass emailing service. You can make an account. It's actually free until you get 2,000 contacts, so it's pretty sweet. Unfortunately, I have 5,000 contacts so I have to pay $50 dollars a month but it's well worth it for me because the most, the vast majority of the jobs I get are through email, so I'm sending out these emailers, like I said, every, we'll say every eight to 10 weeks and that's what keeps me on schedule to keep creating new work and going out there. So again, it's my logo that matches my website, my portfolio, so it has some sort of cohesive elements, images, usually I don't put this, this was an end of the year review. Usually I'll put like two images then the text and then one more image below to keep it a little more simple but like I said, this was kind of my favorite work from the year. Then what I do, what people sometimes frown upon, is through MailChimp you can view who opened all those emails, who clicked on the links and all that. So, I wait approximately three weeks until that email cycled through, the people who were gonna open it, open it, the people who weren't, it's not probably in their trash somewhere. I change up the subject heading and I change it from 92 photos, something that's less funny like this, and more like Year End Review of Commercial and Editorial Photography, something that's more straight forward and gonna get the business minded people and then I change up this text to be more business minded as well and what you can do is you can actually go in, open up the list of all the people who didn't open your previous email, and resend it. So, I know none of those eyeballs hit these photos but I really want them to, so let's say I send it out to 5,000 people, generally I get about 30% of the people open an email. Well then I take the other 70% that didn't open it and I send it all to them with some new content as far as text goes and I'll usually get about 15% of those people who open it. So, again, it's, now your overall open rate's probably like 38% or 40% when it all comes down to it but that's pretty good. I never had any complaints. I know I've read mixed articles on, I feel like if you do a, you know, if you're selling something or something like that, it's kind of frowned upon and a lot of times they, and this is just from email etiquette. Again, I'm not a professional emailer, I just send these out to people, so, I've never heard anything back from anybody but that's what I do to get maximum eyeballs on my email promos. It works for me. Some people might not like it but that's okay, you don't have to do it. So, with that said, that's just a sample of one of my email promos. If you have any questions about that, I made the layout myself within MailChimp, it's super easy, you just kind of make a grid and you say I want text here, I want photo here, whatever you want. It suggests the maximum size so I just crop them in Photoshop and drop them in. Pretty easy to do, pretty easy to make, and really easy to send. You can make them all on two o'clock in the afternoon in one day and schedule them. So, I'll make, what's today? Thursday afternoon I'll make my emails and I'll say I want these to go out next Tuesday at 10 a.m. And then I make it when I have time. I just sit there and then all of a sudden they send you an email. Your campaign just went out. So, it's like oh yeah, I should check and make sure everything's good and I always send a test email to myself beforehand to make sure everything looks good 'cause I'm very good at leaving typos or just forgetting to update the subject heading or things like that so always send a test, I usually send one to myself and a couple other people whose opinion I trust and they'll give me some feedback. Question while we're still on the website, do you have any kind of ability for people to sign up for your email? Yes, yes. So, there's two ways to do that. You can either make a form through your website for them to sign up, whether it's a prompt that pops up when you get to it. All of my emails came from previous, working with different email companies where they have, you know, you pay and you can download the list. Also, tons of my emails come from going to those meetings. I bring a little sign in card for all the people at the meeting to give me their email or their business cards and then I manually type them in so I think, I wanna say it was last year in October, I had so many business cards from portfolio reviews and meetings that I probably manually typed in 500 new emails directly from these people. Of course, you know, you have to ask them if it's okay to be on your list and you want them to opt in and things like that. You can't just randomly go take emails and put them on your, well, you can but you'll get flagged for spam and it's frowned upon. So, all these emails are from legitimate sites and things like that and this is a list that's been compiled over 11 years, so, again, most of those people probably don't even work at the original destination but, at the same time, the emails just automatically remove themselves when they bounce from MailChimp, so it's pretty handy, you don't have to go through there and filter but I'll look at whose emails did bounce and then that's when I'll get on LinkedIn and see where they work now and maybe I'll shoot them a message and say hey, congrats on the new job, mind if I add your new email or get your new email to the list? And, again, this is 80% of the work we do as commercial photographers is not taking picture, it's doing stuff like that. So, trying to get work. It's unfortunate but that's just the truth. So, yeah, having an opt in. You could have something on your website that lets them opt in to a newsletter, all sorts of things like that that automatically pop up and I've seen some pretty funny ones and some ones that are a little bit annoying where they kind of bombard you the minute they get to their website but they're probably effective because sometimes other people even offer deals, I've seen people who also teach offer discounts and things like that, you know. You could go to the website for like J. Crew and it's like 10% off your first order if you put in your email, so, there's still type of things, it's a little hard to do that as a commercial photographer but there's definitely ways to get emails and compile your list. And let's quickly talk about social media. I like to keep social media pretty basic because it is a time suck. As we all know, getting on social media, you get on there to look up one thing, 20 minutes later, you forgot why you got on there, and you're looking at a picture of a cat jumping in a hula hoop or something. Who knows. Those are the things that happen when you get on Facebook and you thought you had a direction. So, I don't really do Facebook that much anymore, I don't really do, I do Twitter only to basically read the news and I got rid of some of the other forms of social media over the years, so, for me being a photographer, I picked a photo based medium and that is the social media of Instagram. So, I post all my new work on there, my following, the people I follow on Instagram are generally people who I want to hire me and some photographers who inspire me but I keep it all photo based. I know I look at some of my friends like my sister-in-law's Instagram and she follows like eight jillion things and they're all memes which she forwards to me and I do appreciate that but I don't have time to sort through and look all that stuff. It's hard enough if I ever do get on Facebook, that's what you're bombarded with, so, that's why I like to use Instagram. I kind of have a curated feed of what I look at and at the same time, when I first got Instagram, it was, you know, sloppy photos of oh, look, we're out to dinner, we're doing this. Well, that's what the stories are for now. You can post all that stuff, it disappears in 24 hours, it's a good way to stay relevant and stay on people's radars. I know, if I follow, I follow about 400 people on Instagram and a couple times just out of curiosity, I counted how many people of those had an active story and it was something like 50. So, that shows me that not a lot of people use that stories feature so one of my strategies, using Instagram, and I actually don't have a live story right now which is ironic is I always try and keep something, you know, yesterday I made a post from here, I don't want one of those stories that looks like it has 70 dashes across the top and it takes forever to get through. I just wanna make something that has one or two clicks that shows what I'm up to, makes it look like I'm busy, shows a couple pictures of my dog. Things that people get a little peak behind the curtain as to what's going on in my life whether it's photographically or personal because that's one of the things I've noticed if only 15% of people are actually using stories consistently, I always get on Instagram and then I click on those stories and I'm like (humming) and it's always the same people but I feel like I kind of know them even if I don't so I think well, they're on my radar, I know exactly what people's living rooms look like who I've never met, just because of that, I wouldn't mind having, just staying on their radar. If nothing else, when my name pops in their inbox with an email promo, it matches up with what they saw on Instagram Story, so it's like, Dan, I recognize that last name, I don't know why, but I'll open this email. So, it's just kind of these thoughts that, you know, aren't really concrete but it's just a chance for my name to pop up more times and that's, again, why my commercial photography is Dan Brouillette Photography because that's what my social media is, that's what my emails come up as and I feel like having that consistency among all your brands is important too whether it's your Instagram handle. If your Instagram handle is like IHeartPhotos but your business name is something else, it might be hard to associate those two things so I always try and keep things consistent. And same with the domain name of your website too. So, it's always kind of keeping it simple and, again, that's why I only use Instagram. A couple other sources for photos are some different photo-based websites. One of them's Behance. You'll see some people who make profiles on there. I've actually heard of this being more and more popular lately amongst a couple people in the advertising community. You can put projects up there that you're working on whether it's an entire photo project, a photo set from portfolio, and you can write a little bit about it but it's basically a portfolio, a website for creatives to put up some of the work their on, their working on, and then you can search it by different categories and things like that. I talked to a couple people, one was a rep, another was someone in advertising and they said, oh yeah, I found this guy on Behance and I was like, I don't even know what that is. I think it's owned by Adobe. I didn't know that until I just went to make a profile on Behance and apparently I've had one for seven years but it was because it was my Adobe login. Photoserve is owned by PDN Magazine, it's another resource. I've gotten hired like five different times from Photoserve and I don't even remember signing up for that either but apparently I had like five photos and my location, so when people were looking for editorial photographers in the Midwest, they typed in some certain perimeters and my name came up, so Photoserve's a site where you can have a free profile that links to your website or you can pay to have a little more features. I'm sure there's quite a few more sites like that, I'm not familiar with any of them, but these are the ones that I use. I've also heard of a lot of ad people recently making a comeback to Pinterest to look up some ideas, following people's different Pinterest boards as far as photographers go. I'm not currently active on there 'cause, again, I only have so much time and I just don't do it but I've heard, and this is in the last two months, I've heard of a couple of people and ad agencies talking about Pinterest as, you know, something that they used to do, then it phased out, and now they're back looking on there for whatever reasons. So, I'm just saying what I hear, I don't speak it as gospel or anything but those are what I've heard from some people whose opinions I do value.

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!

Student Work