Self-Promotion For Photographers, MARKET SATURATION
I promised to answer some marketing questions based on the feedback I got from my recent Self Promotion series. Here’s the first. Todd Nordquist wrote:
My question is on identifying markets. How do you know if a particular specialty is lucrative? My specialty is nature and wildlife, but the market seems so saturated. I’d like to branch out, but don’t really know where to begin.
Let me suggest a few approaches. Remember, this is shooting from the hip kind of stuff, not an encyclopeadic reply.
TIGHTEN YOUR FOCUS – STRENGTHEN YOUR BRAND
You said your passion is nature and wildlife but you’re struggling against the saturation. Perhaps branching into another field/market is worthwhile, but maye it’s not. Generally the more we dilute ourselves, the less specialized we become, and the less our appeal to our markets. Instead of going broader why not go tighter? You might instead consider pursuing a niche within the nature and wildlife market. Why not find a tight niche in which there are few shooters and raise your prices? Better to be the absolute best in a small market, than mediocre in a large one. Better to sell 10 images at $10,000 each than to sell 100 images at $1,000 each. Less work, more money = more time to shoot what you love, spend time with family, etc.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
There is simply no substitute for doing your research. And in the age of The Google, it’ll take less time and leg work than it once did. A few hours online and you should get a pretty clear idea of who is doing what and where.
GO WHERE THEY AIN’T
In your research keep one eye open for the gaps. What is NOT being shot? Make a list of the things you love to shoot and are good at shooting. Make a companion list of the potential markets that are accessible to you. Now look for the holes. Make your own market and you set the rules.
ADOPT OR ADAPT
So you stumble across a gal in Toronto shooting pictures of little babies dressed as cowboys and riding the family pet, and you think to yourself (against all logic) – Hey, Self, this would really fly in Texas (cause, baby, if it’s gonna fly at all I’m betting Texas is the place). Why not do something similar? You can adopt the idea and do a similar thing, or you can adapt the idea – take it a step further or a step to the right. If you’re a creative person you know it’ll just come to you in the shower. But the chances are better the more you do your research.
FOLLOW YOUR BLISS
Normally people love what they are really truly good at. And more often than not, when you combine what you love and what you’re good at, with some business acumen and some savvy marketing, you will be just fine. I don’t know much about becoming rich, my only goal is to do what I love as long and as well as I can., and to stay debt free. Life is too short to only chase the buck.
Todd, I am an unabashed idealist so you’re forgiven if you think this last one is a little pie in the sky. The caveat is you must ALSO do your marketing well, and bust your but doing the leg work.
A NOTE ON SATURATION
One final comment – more a thought than a firm theory. People do talk in terms of market saturation, but I think if a market is saturated it’s just begging to have fresh new talent infused into it, or to have the market itself completely re-imagined. Let me re-phrase this – if you are not getting work because your market is saturated then it means your market sees you as one generic shooter in a field of generic shooters and you are not distinguishing yourself as unique in either your photography or your marketing. The only ways to work within a saturated market are to be way better than other photographers, or more visible than other photographers, or to offer more benefits than other photographers. Or all three.
Just my two cents worth, much of it based on pure opinion.