Wednesday, 14 May 2008

POV: Hug Your Audience

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Mike Fox has an excellent article on Black Star Rising titled Building Your Brand Online, in which he outlines recommendations for photographers and photojournalists -established and emerging- to brand themselves. It's a must-read for those who need reaffirmation that the Internet is the most useful medium for self-marketing.

As the article asserts, branding oneself is a multi-pronged effort; it includes setting up a Facebook or MySpace account, putting up a Flickr site, author a blog, and use the myriad of other tools that are readily available.

There's no doubt in my mind that authoring The Travel Photographer blog was one of the wisest decision I've made. It takes time and effort, but it's certainly worth it. The Travel Photographer blog was an excellent (and cheap) way to publicize my name, my photography work and photo expeditions to an infinitely larger audience than the one originally reached through my website. The blog effectively allowed me to hug my audience, and each post I write maintains that hug.

I also compound the reach of my blog by crafting my periodic email newsletters that carry news of my photography projects and photo expeditions. Email newsletters are phenomenal tools to directly reach your contacts. My mailing list went from a handful of names at its outset to currently over 500 registered members....and more join every week. This in itself is a key target audience...and the newsletters allow me to hug that audience.

So my advice to established and (especially) emerging photographers is to create and maintain a blog...it doesn't have to be updated daily, but it must be well crafted and interesting...and weekly posts are perfectly acceptable. Blogging about one's work and describing how a specific photograph was made is always interesting to your audience. If one relies on the passive approach of just having a website, hoping and waiting for eyeballs...the wait will be long.

However, if one starts a blog, it must be updated on a consistent basis. Posting on an erratic or irregular basis defeats the purpose of maintaining a regular line of communications (aka the hug) with your target audience, who should be anticipating your forthcoming blog post...very similar to the arrival of a magazine in one's mailbox.