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The more I travel around the country the more I hear how so many photographers are suffering from a lack of work. I feel compelled to offer help to anyone who is interested in learning how I made it through the dot.com bust years ago and the slow down after 9/11. It seems like every ten years or so there is a cleansing of all industries and only the strongest survive. To make sure your business survives and thrives during the current recession I would like to offer seven steps for creating work.
#1. Make a Top Ten List
The top ten list is a collection of ten clients you’d like to work for in the next year. This list should be powerful in its ability to keep you busy for years to come. Think hard about this list and only put the cream of the crop on it. For example if you shoot portraits maybe your wish list would include shooting for a magazine like Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone. If you shoot weddings then maybe you’d like to have one of your weddings featured in The Knot magazine. You should write out your top ten list using pen and paper. Its not enough to simply put it on your computer, as you should have it available to view every day. Place your list on your bathroom mirror or somewhere that will keep it in front of you every day. Make a small version to keep in your wallet or purse and look at it often. This is the first step in bringing your dreams to reality.
# 2. Make a Beautiful Print
Now that you have your top-ten list it is time to work on getting their attention. Print a 5x7 image of one of your favorite photographs. The print should be on the best photographic paper available. Once you have your list together you will send a signed print to each of the ten people on your list. Remember to including your name, website, email address and phone number. Add a short personal note and let your work speak for itself. Do NOT send an email promo.
#3. Have an Exhibit
Time to show your best work. An exhibit is the perfect opportunity to showcase your work to the community and generate interest and exposure. The exhibit does not have to be a large exhibit but should be strong powerful work. You will need to have an opening event and invite your top-ten list, press and your current client list. Do not worry if your top-ten list comes or not, but be sure to send an invitation. Even if you have never met anyone on your top-ten list you must invite your future clients to your exhibit.
#4. Hire a Photographer
Hire a photographer to shoot your exhibit opening and make sure any members of your top-ten list are photographed with you. After your opening you will want to syndicate the photos to news media outlets to generate interest in your exhibit. Include photos of your exhibit to local newspapers and radio stations. Be sure to include a short bio and description of your exhibit. You are now becoming your own publicist.
# 5. Blog
Leading up to your event make sure to blog, tweet and use social media to generate interest as you build up to the opening of your exhibit. Continue blogging after the exhibit opening and share images from opening night.
# 6. Second Point of Contact
Three months after your first signed print it is time to send a second print. Now your top-ten list has started to learn your name and work but to keep their attention you must work your plan for no less than twelve months. By the end of the twelve-month -cycle your future clients will have four signed prints and be able to recognize your name and work and start considering you for work
#7. King Treatment
Treat your top ten list like your best friend from high school. Once you start working for your top-ten list you must nurture the relationship. Learn birthdays of your clients and their children. Do all you can once you get in the door to stay there. Good luck!
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