Moving into some of those specific marketing tools that we've been talking about here a little bit. The first one is your website. This is your storefront, essentially. You can consider it the modern day storefront. In many cases, this might be a person's first interaction or encounter with your brand. So the impression that you give here is an important one. Consider your customer or your client's experience. What does it feel like, from their perspective, to go through your website? Do they have to click through... Here the idea for me is a website should be clear, simple and direct. There should be no guessing or searching. I don't want people having to dig through mountains of images to find one they might like or one that they came here looking for in the first place. I think, on average, you have half a second with someone until they decide whether they're staying or leaving or not. That's (snaps) like that and so if you have a splash screen and you're asking them to click to ent...
er, they already entered. They already put in your website or did the search. They don't wanna click again. You're just giving them an opportunity to second guess or decide ah, it's not worth it. So you wanna be really direct and maybe even ask people that you work with or people that you wanna work with what do you look for in a website? What are some things that really bother you about websites? What are some things that you appreciate and again, there's a couple things happening here. A, you're asking someone else about their opinion. That's a great, genuine interaction you could have with a potential client is you're asking them, hey I value your opinion and what you do. I'd love to hear from you on this and you'd be surprised when you're constantly asking someone look at my work, look at my work, you may not hear from them. You might ask someone, I'm just curious about your opinion. They might write you two pages back. It makes a big difference and then that's an interaction that you've made in a really genuine way and you're getting great information and feedback, like oh my gosh, I never thought about that. Photo editors want a way to save images to a PDF so they can present it to their boss or their client or something, maybe I should create something that gives that functionality. Those are the kinds of things you'll discover as you do that kind of research. So consider the client's experience. Again, be quick, clear to the point. Don't make it complicated. Your best work should be seen first. Again, it's back to this idea of starting a conversation. If you wanna do something, start with that and then go backwards. Don't bury your best work last and assume they'll even get that far. If you start with work that's eh, they might just go that's not what I want and leave. Keep them there as long as possible by starting with the best. And then also, it's harder when you're starting out, but in general, I would advocate try not to change your images too frequently. In the spirit of this idea that it takes a lot of time for people to remember an image or a brand and it takes time for people to reference that or actually be in a position where they wanna hire you, so many times where someone goes oh my gosh, I remember that postcard or maybe just that image I saw a year ago. I think I remember John Keatley shot that. I need to find that, I need to pitch it to my client or my boss before we can talk about working with him. Then they go to your website and it's not there anymore. They're either gonna be like, oh maybe it wasn't John. Maybe it was so and so and then they're gonna go look somewhere else for it or maybe they're just like ugh, I can't find it and they just give up. They're like I know it exists, but it's frustrating and they might just move on. So try not to move your work around too much unless, literally, it's something you don't wanna be doing more of. That's a time to- but even the order. Try to be as consistent as possible. It doesn't mean you can't change it. I don't want people to be fearful of moving stuff around, but just keep that in mind. It takes time. People need time to reference and refer back. So make that an easy process for them.
What's your strategy with your blog?
That's a good question. What's my strategy with my blog? That's actually coming up here. I think a blog, though, is a great time to be a little more informal. It's a time to show a little bit more about your process and I'll save some of the rest of the stuff, 'cause there's a blog section, but a blog, I think even today, is something that I still think has a ton of value. I think it gets a little overlooked because of social media and some people think maybe blogging is not as big a deal. It's not something that people are looking at in the sense of I used to have a blog reader that I subscribed to all these blogs and stuff and that doesn't really happen anymore. We don't look at blogs in that way, but there's still great value and I would totally keep that in mind and not discount the idea of using a blog, but we will get into that in a little bit. Moving into emails. As we mentioned a little bit, it's okay to just say hi. Be conversational. It doesn't always have to be about you pushing your work or showing something you've done. Again, use tact. Maybe don't say hi in a mass newsletter, but say hi individually, in a direct sort of way with people. Kinda think about it as a handwritten note. People, we don't even get these anymore, but if someone takes the time to send a handwritten note, even today, but especially back in the day, that meant something. Like, wow, they took the time. They were thinking about me. That shows intentionality. So with email again, show an appreciation for other people's work. There is power in a personal email versus a mass email. Now, both mass emails and personal emails are very important. You definitely wanna utilize both, but it depends on what you want. If you just want someone to be aware of something, a mass email is great. If you want someone to act on something, you're gonna need a personal email or some sort of personal interaction. So, I shared with you about when I decided I wanted to show in a gallery and I sent the workaround to a couple people and I was told that this work is terrible or uninteresting and then I did end up getting- I made a connection with someone and we both, again, were aligned in vision as we've been talking about and I had my first solo exhibition a little over a year ago, in January. And so I put a lot of time and effort into this. I wanted it to be a really great experience. I was excited. It was my first show and so I had all these ideas that I wanted to make sure came out of this and I also really wanted my friends and family and people I work with and care about to be there. It meant a lot to me and I wanted to share that with these people and there came a point where I had done social media and a lot of outreach and letting people know about this, but I knew I had this list and there's a lot of people on the list and there's a lot of people I wanna have come and I was like I don't have time to email all these people and I kinda knew I should probably email people directly, but I was like, uh, but it would just be so much easier to just send out a newsletter and so I sent out a newsletter which was fine. It didn't hurt me, but then I was talking to some friends. I'm in a small group of really good friends from college and we all run businesses and so we get together every once in a while and talk about our businesses and what we're going through and help each other out with ideas and thinking creatively. I just floated out there. I was like, "I want everyone to come." I was like, "I don't have time to email people," and my friend Brian was like you need to email everyone individually and I was like, "Brian, "I don't have time for that." and he's like "15 people a day for a week." and I was like "I definitely don't have time for that." and so I didn't take his advice, but three or four days before, I realized I should've taken his advice, so I started emailing. I wasn't able to email everyone directly, but I did the best I could. I started just emailing people directly that I had a relationship with and all these people are people I know really well and I really care about and I know they care about me and I really would think that they would come 'cause they do know about it. But I was surprised how many people wrote back or even told me the night of the opening when they came. They're like, "man, because you sent me an email, "I was like I'll be there," or "you know what, "since you asked me personally, I'll be there." and that was surprising to me, but it really drove home the importance of no matter what your relationship is, if you want something, you need to show people that you genuinely want it and the best way to do that is through intentionality. If you just throw it out there, doesn't mean some people won't come, but there's not really intentionality behind that, so expect fewer people to follow through on that. In contrast to that, I learned that lesson and not a week later, I got an email from a very good friend of mine for a project that he was involved with and it was the same kind of situation as me for another event that he wanted people to come to, but it was a mass email and it was like "hey everybody," no direct contact. It was clearly a mass email. "Check out this cool thing we're doing. "You should come to it." Kind of thing. My first carnal, human response was like, forget you man. I'm not going to that and then I was like oh my gosh dude, this is a good friend. You're so rude, but it really drove home to me. Human nature is if you feel like someone cares and they're being intentional, you're much more inclined to respond to that and you definitely pick up on when someone's not, no matter how well you know them. So, all that being said, is when you really want something, make sure that you're being specific and intentional about asking for it and not expecting a mass email to work in a way that only a personal email will. Is there a question on emails or, yes?
So when you're building that email list, are you just adding people or are you letting them subscribe?
There's lots of different ways. When you... You do absolutely, yes, first of all, you want to create an email list. For us, we have an email list. Anyone that goes on that list that we've talked to about a potential job or they've asked us about a job, even if we didn't get that job, we create a contact. These are people that we've had an interaction with who potentially would want to work with us, who we align with, potentially. I think it's also a good idea to market your work to your friends and to your family because they may not necessarily hire you directly, but they will speak to someone else, maybe, who might. So you want to, again, share your work in all aspects. You don't want to discount relationships that you have and then again, you're gonna wanna look through people that you wanna reach that you don't have interactions with and try to find ways to connect with them as well. It could be following them on social media and commenting on the stuff they're doing or posting that you really like. It could be sending them a message on Twitter. Oh my gosh, I love your work or I love what you do. It would be so fun to work with you sometime. And then it could also be sending emails and things like that, so it takes time. When we started off our email list, it was really small and even after a year, it was like oh my gosh, this is so small and then all of a sudden, you wake up and it's 15 years later and you're like wow, I have thousands of people on this list. Yeah, you're not like talking face to face with everyone, but you could have a conversation with most of them about some sort of experience or interaction you've had at some point, so, yes.
Do you have a suggested system or software to track? I have a list of about 1,000 names I sent out a email and some people say yeah, this is great, but get back to me in a month and then, you know. Between calendaring or checklists or Excel or something like that.
I think whatever works best for you. We use spreadsheets and things like that and we have some other programs that we use for various applications but I don't advocate for one in particular. I think whatever works best for you and whatever is gonna help you stay organized. Nichelle, my wife, she is really, really organized and I've learned a lot about organization from her. She is more naturally inclined to be organized. I think I've gotten better, but we both use spreadsheets and I've learned the power of spreadsheets in keeping organized in that sort of way. I still have a lot of notes and stuff, but I can get in trouble real quick with my notebooks because it's just like- I get overwhelmed by the disorganization and then I start thinking what about, where's this, and so I try to put as much as I can into detailed lists and spreadsheets and things like that. But I know that people have told me there's plenty of software, I think, that's tailored even maybe towards photographers and those might be really good tools to use for you. Anyone else? All right, so definitely yes, create email lists and again, within your lists, be specific. Maybe not everyone gets everything that you do. Maybe you're doing editorial and some advertising and that's okay, maybe you are happy with both, but you probably don't wanna be sending a bunch of your editorial work to those ad clients so make sure you keep them separated and be organized within your contact list as well. For me now, as I'm doing fine art, I'm not gonna be sending galleries a bunch of my commercial work. That's the last thing they want to see or care about. So you need to be really sure about who you're speaking to and what you're sharing with them. Face to face. A connection with someone face to face is so incredibly valuable. This basically comes- I'm talkin about any time you're face to face with someone. This could be on set, when you're working with a client or your subject. This could be meeting with someone for a portfolio review. This is a huge part of your brand. This informs someone of what it's like to be with you, what is your demeanor, how do you carry yourself, are you confident or not confident? Are you funny? Do they enjoy being around you? But face to face is super, super valuable. Time on set, while we're on this picture, something that I learned is I did a shoot with a celebrity a couple years ago and I learned that the wife of the person that I was photographing is really into photography and we had a mutual friend and so I took one of my small books or booklets that I use for marketing and I took it there just to give to her 'cause I thought, you know, she might like to see what I'm up to. We got to the shoot and there was some miscommunication and we were photographing this person at their home and they didn't realize that I was bringing a crew. They thought it was just something for a newspaper, in and out kind of thing. We were setting up, it was gonna take hours, So he wasn't super excited about that. And so I was apologetic and I had never had contact with him before, so it wasn't up to me to communicate that. So I went downstairs, I was like, "we gotta hustle. "we gotta set this up." I gave the promo piece to his wife and then we started setting up and then he came down a little later and she was like, "oh my gosh honey, look at this." she was like, "this is his work." and he was like "whoa, you did that?" and I was like yeah, this is my work. And he was like "oh my gosh, that's awesome. "Is that what we're doing today?" and I was like yeah, he was like "ah, how much time do you need? "Do you guys wanna stay for dinner?" All of a sudden, it changed, everything. It went from we need to get out of here as quick as possible, they don't really want to have their picture taken to they're excited and they want to be a part of this. And that also goes back, again, to what we talked about. Don't assume. Don't assume ever. My assumption had literally been for 15 years. If I'm photographing somebody, they know who I am. Not in the sense of ooh, this is so and so, but they know what I do. They know there's a portrait photographer coming to their house. I would assume they've seen my work and so why would there be any confusion there? But that made a big impact on me, so then again, like in this instance, I'm photographing another celebrity. I started taking my book with me and sharing with people and I started seeing people, realizing they don't know who I am. They didn't look at my work. Sometimes, maybe their publicist did to make sure that I was approved or whatever, but they don't know. They have other things going on. So I show them my work and all of a sudden, they're like, "Oh my gosh, you've shot my friend, "Jeff Garland and oh my gosh, I know-" and then all of a sudden, that builds trust and it builds excitement about them working with you and it might get you a little bit more. They might give a little more energy to the shoot because of that. They might give you an extra minute. Maybe you were only gonna get five and they give you six. That's a big deal, that's a huge thing. And so you need to maximize your opportunities when you have face to face interactions with people and don't assume. I have a friend who does celebrity portraits and does really crazy awkward things and people always wanna know how do you get people to do this? And the answer is you convey excitement and you get them excited and it's the same thing with your opportunities face to face. Convey an excitement about what you do and that will translate to them being a little more excited, if not much more excited about being a part of this process. So again, face to face, it can include a portfolio review, and we talked about this earlier. We jumped ahead a little bit. When you're at the portfolio review, it's important for them to see your work, but what's even more important at the portfolio review? (audience member mumbling) What? To listen, yeah, to listen. To get to know them. You want to maximize that opportunity to build that relationship. When you're on set, as I just mentioned, you want to create excitement about what you're doing. Sometimes even crew members, they show up. Maybe you told them briefly what the project is, but you want to tell them like, "hey, I'm really excited. "This is gonna be so cool." That matters. That affects people that you're working with. Maybe coffee or happy hour. It's hard when you're first starting out to just ask- it's hard to get someone to look at your work on an email, let alone expect them to go out and have drinks with you or go to get coffee, but eventually, as you do this, you'll start to realize, wow, I have friends in this industry. I've developed these relationships. Several years ago, my wife and I were driving home from lunch and it just dawned on me, I was like, "oh my gosh, that's crazy, we just left lunch with our good friend who's the VP of Marketing at this ad agency and she called us and asked if we wanted to go out to lunch." Again, you have to just keep things in perspective 'cause it does take time, but all of a sudden, you'll be out and you'll be getting invited by friends to go and three, four years ago this was someone you desperately wanted to get your work in front of and you couldn't figure out how it was gonna happen. It takes time, but it will happen and so that's why, again, you've gotta be persistent and just stick with the plan. Your blog, so someone was asking about blogs. This is, I think, still very important. Maybe people aren't super into blogging or checking out blogs on readers, but what people are still really into is search engines and searching for things and blogs are a great way to connect with organic searches and connect what you're doing with people that may not necessarily know what you're doing. These are people, now we've talked about you going out and finding people. Sometimes people come and find you and even up until the last couple years, some of our biggest advertising jobs have come, at least from what I've been told, from Google searches. It happens and so you definitely want to make sure that you are able to be found in that way. Another great thing about blogs is it's an opportunity for you to be a little more personal and show people a little bit about your process. You're showing your work on social media and on your website and stuff, you don't need to just do that again on your blog. This is a place where you can actually write and explain part of your process. You can show people what it was like to work with you, what your crew looks like. Are you having a good time? Are they people that they feel like they could trust and all that stuff, so this is a place to open the curtain a little bit and show a little bit more. Also, again, the sky's the limit, but for us, when we send out a newsletter, so starting to tie some of these tools in together. If we send out a newsletter and I show a campaign that I just did, what do I want to have happen? Do I want them to just see it and remember it? That's fine. That's one possibility. Another possibility would be I want them to do something. I want them to go further. I want them to see more. So I could say click on this image to go to my website and see it again or you could say click on this image to go to your website and see the whole campaign or you can click this image and go to my blog and you can see more about how we created it or not saying that that has to be the message, but whatever it is that you want them to do. I do think sometimes you put a little too much emphasis on BTS, behind the scenes. Not everyone needs to know how everything was made. Sometimes it detracts from the work that we actually wanna create, but it can be a really helpful tool from time to time in showing people what it's like to work with you. But with the blog, consistency is key. You don't want to look like it's an abandoned hotel and someone forgot to turn the lights off or someone did turn the lights off. You want it to look like someone still lives here and it's something you care about. I will be the first to admit that in the last couple years as our business has grown and changed and I've gotten busier, I've fallen off a little bit with the blog. It's one place that I do struggle with from time to time, but it's really important to be consistent. So right now, I'm trying to find a new rhythm as our workflow has changed. I can't do twice a month anymore like I used to and I'd gotten to the point where I was like I have this schedule, twice a month, and then I couldn't keep it up and I felt bad and so I just didn't do it at all. Now, I need to figure out, okay maybe once a quarter. Maybe that makes more sense or whatever that is, but be consistent in whatever rhythm you can actually back up. Did that answer- I know there were some other questions about a blog, but yeah.
So are you putting, if you're gonna be doing gallery work or you're moving into more fine art stuff, are you putting all that stuff onto your commercial blogs and platforms? How are you addressing both parts of those career moves?
That's a great question. That's something that we're still thinking about. I think for me, right now, my fine art work is very closely tied, visually, to my commercial work. Obviously, when I'm creating commercial work, it's intended to sell a product or something, but my fine art work, visually, is closely tied. I'm not doing something for myself and then doing something completely different for clients. It's usually do what you do, but do it for us. There may come a time when it's just conceptually, it needs to be separate or something like that, but for me, I've seen examples of other people doing what I'm trying to do and I feel like it works. I feel like they work together really well and actually benefit each other, but that's a great question and that's something that I need to constantly reassess and look at and decide okay, does this make sense and sometimes that means reordering things. That has meant for me a little bit pulling back a little bit in some cases on my commercial work and maybe highlighting in other places. It's a balance, yeah, but... Okay, let's see, so the next one, newsletter. We've mentioned newsletters quite a bit, but again, this is an opportunity to show a consistent voice and show growth. As with anything, it's not gonna result in an immediate response. I've had people take our workshop and no matter how much we tell them, we say hey, this is gonna take time and they go, "man, I sent out my first newsletter, nobody wrote me back. "what a waste of money." That's not how it works. It takes time and it takes people seeing your growth as an artist. This is a great way for people to see how your work has changed and grown and what you're doing and it's also a chance for them to see in a quick, meaningful way, how your work is consistent and maybe even hopefully applicable to what they do. But specifically with the newsletter, and maybe this even applies to all your marketing, this is a long term approach and I would not expect to see anything for three to five years. It's gonna take time. You just have to commit to it, find your voice, be you, don't try to be someone you're not and be consistent in your voice. Use first names. Again, we talked about the difference of just being intentional with a personal email versus a mass email. Even if you're doing a mass newsletter, use first names. It matters. If I get an email in my account and it's like, hey, it would be so fun or whatever to connect or I'd love to assist for you. Even if they are just writing me, I just delete it because it's like I wanna know someone really meant to write me. Was this a mass letter? I don't have time for that kind of thing. So again, it's a good exercise in thinking about someone else's perception when receiving what we're sending them, but use first names at the very minimum. Also, with newsletters, it's important to have a good subject line. I think it's important to catch someone's attention. You don't want to do a bait and switch. You want it to be leading into what it actually is, but you don't want to be literal. Check out this newsletter for new work. That's not interesting. We can all assume it's probably new work, but why would I wanna click this? What's it about? And then also, keep in mind what's the language? Who am I trying to reach, but also what's the ecosystem that I'm living in here? You're sending people emails that are going through corporate spam filters. So there was one time where I did this series of portraits for an ad agency and everyone was topless. It was just shoulders up and they had hands on their faces and stuff and so I thought it was gonna be super clever and funny to have this newsletter that was subject line was get nude with such and such agency and thankfully, right before we clicked send, I remembered oh my gosh, spam filters. I can guarantee you nude is not getting through those corporate spam filters. That would be a wasted opportunity, so you have to really think through what's the system, what's the process, what are some of the hurdles that I need to get through. You also, as we've talked about, you wanna generate targeted lists and you wanna make sure that you're being specific to those lists in the content you're sending. There's also some great analytics that you can follow when you're using various services. They can show you who actually opened or clicked on the newsletters. How effective was it to certain people that you're trying to target, but you don't want to be a creeper. There are so many times when we tell people about this and then someone's response is they send out a newsletter, they see someone opened it and they write them and they go "hey, I see that you opened my newsletter. "We should get together for coffee sometime." Everybody knows that you can see if they opened or clicked the newsletter, but they don't want to hear about it, just like you wouldn't go up to someone and be like, "hey, I was walking by your house today "and I saw you through the window. "Looks like you're eating turkey for dinner or something." Yeah, I know that I live on a busy street and my window is open, but I don't wanna hear about you looking at me through the window. That's just weird. So, again, some same social norms apply when using these technologies. Keep in mind that the average open rate is 10 to 20% for a newsletter. So if you're within there, that might seem like a failure, 10%, it's kinda like baseball. If you get out seven out of 10 times, you're actually really, really good. The other thing is instead of what do you do when someone opens or clicks on your newsletter, you don't tell them you saw that, but what you could do is you could send them a follow up postcard and again you don't say I saw, but you're leveraging the data that you have. So maybe you can't afford to send- maybe you send an email to 1,000 people and 50 people opened it. You send a postcard to those 50 people. You know that there's some interest on their part. They already interacted to some extent. So now give them another image that they can remember. Maybe if they liked it, they'll put it up on their wall. Extend that interaction, but you're being very targeted and specific and you're maximizing your budget in that way instead of sending it out to everyone. Now, I would say if you have the money, it's probably still good to send it to everyone, but I'm just thinking, depending on your situation, that's a great way to follow up with that information. I'm not gonna give you a specific service, but there's lots of different services that you can use to send out newsletters. I'm sure many of you are familiar with several of them already, but you can find lots of services that will help you put an email together, deliver them in a way where they won't necessarily get hung up in spam filters. You don't wanna be doing it yourself. Generally, it's probably not a good idea to send a bunch of emails from Gmail. That just gets a little messy. Mailers, so these can be a tangible reminder of your brand. And you want to think about what's the goal? A mailer is not the same. All mailers are not created equal. So this on the top here, this is a postcard that we just sent out that's our new family picture and we send it out to a bunch of clients and potential clients. The goal for me with this is it's small and the goal is ideally, hopefully, they pin it up on their wall and it's a daily visual reminder. We have this other piece that is much bigger than the postcard. I have no illusions that anyone's gonna probably put that up on their wall, but it's a different kind of piece. It makes a different impact. It's something that's a little heavier and thicker and it's more of a booklet. People are more inclined to keep that maybe on the coffee table. I can leave that with people when I'm there in person. It feels more intentional and a little more impressive than just giving someone a postcard or a business card. So there's different strategies for each one. Just know why you're doing each particular thing and what the intended outcome is that you hope for that. And again, with mailers, you want to be really memorable. Think about every step in the process. If you're sending out a postcard, don't put it in a thick envelope that they have to open. First of all, they're gonna get it and be like what is this? Then you have to decide do I even want to open this? We send our postcards in clear mailers so that people know immediately what it is and they can decide if they want to open it or not, but even if they throw it out, they've seen it. We've already made an impact. It's the same kind of thing we were talking about with the website. Quick and clear is the name of the game in this industry. People don't have a lot of time, especially when they're getting 100 of these a day. And also, with your mailers, show what you want to shoot. Don't send them work that's not in line with what you want to keep doing just because you had an assignment. If it's not what you want to do more of, don't make a postcard of that work. Only send work that you want to get more of. Client thank you's are another opportunity. If you've done a job or someone has done something really kind or helpful for you, let them know that you care and you appreciate that and you're not just taking things from people, but you're giving. So we've done a number of things. This is something where we had this local whiskey company that I love. We had our logo put on it and we sent it out. We gave it. We took our time. We didn't send them out right away, but whenever we had an interaction with someone that we really loved or they did a job with us or something and we felt like they actually like whiskey, we would give them this and it would make a big impact. It was like a very targeted, specific thing that showed people we really care. This has been driven home for me in the few times I've been given things and I realized, wow, what a big impact that made on me. It's important though to make sure that you're giving something that is meaningful to you and something that's gonna be meaningful to the recipient. Getting something you don't really care about like some sweater that some distant family member gave you, that's not exciting. Don't do it just to go through the motions of it. You can do thank you's at the end of the year. You can do them at the end of a job. If you're gonna do them at the end of a job, though, make sure you don't give it to them on set. Make sure you don't give it to them when you still are talking to them about post-production. The reason for this is if you already have a meaningful reason to reach out because you're working on post together, don't waste an opportunity to connect on one that you already have. Wait 'til the job's done. There's no reason for them to keep writing you. There's nothing you really can say to them. That's a new opportunity that you're opening up. Send it then. That's a great time, or send it all at once at the end of the year. That might be a better use of your time too so you're not constantly having to think of new gifts. That time adds up over the course of a year. But again, going back to face to face, talk to people on set that you're working with that you might want to give a gift to. Find out who they are, what they like. That's an opportunity to learn, in a portfolio meeting, who this person is, so that when you give them something, it will be a little bit more meaningful. And finally, the gut feeling, the entire experience of working with you, this is a big part of your marketing. How do you handle yourself? How do people speak about you? That is a huge part of what people consider to be your brand, so be authentic in all of your interactions.