17 February 2014

The Benefits of Getting Your Work Published [Part 1]

Sun & Sparrow has been in the business of photography for just over 4 years. Ellie and I have worked diligently to build our photography business, using as many tools as we can to get our names out there. There have been many pros and cons over the years to using different marketing strategies. We have seen the photography industry grow and we have seen the way different types of brides find their photographers & vendors. Today, I want to discuss some of the reasons why “Getting Published” is beneficial to any photography business (or any wedding vendor). By getting our name out there, we can begin to book the right types of brides for our businesses, begin to look better than our competition, as well as build a strong wedding vendor community networks. 

Photography and art have always been very personal to us, I must share it with the world. When we take the time to set up an image, edit the image, and send it to our client, it has to come with love from the heart. But, if I’m honest, I’m secretly thinking about how to get this session published. Is this session “Blog-worthy”?  If a session has enough details and enough diversity to consider submitting, I will do my best to send it out. Nerves always get the best of me when I’m putting my work from the heart out there. But I know that I have to send it out, because it’s good sense and a good way for more brides to find us.  When submitting, I have to think about which type of blog will take which type of session. Not every client is the same and not every blog is the same. If you want to be published regularly, I recommend signing up for Two Bright Lights. This is a great way to make your submissions quick and simple, as well as find out what blogs are looking for. If you have a vintage, Mad men inspired engagement session, it’s best to find the right type of blog to feature it. Don’t be discouraged if your session doesn’t get picked the first round. There is always another chance and another blog that might be better suited for your session. 

The best part about “Getting Published" is getting your name out there. Publications, blogs or print, are a big deal. When Sun & Sparrow was just forming, we knew we needed to get our name to potential brides, but didn’t really know how. Since we had barely started, we were willing to take anyone who would hire us. Many of those first clients were friends and family who wanted to support us. But as we grew in our photography, we knew that it was time to branch out. We tried bridal shows and advertised on bridal blogs. But there was little return. As we slowly stretched our reach, we began to see client's creativity influence our work. I thought, “Since this client has so many creative details, I wonder if we could publish this wedding.” The most reasonable next step was to GET PUBLISHED. So we submitted. We submitted around 8 engagement sessions and weddings to various blogs and only 2 were published. Those two little publications didn’t make us famous, but they did encourage us to keep submitting. Ellie and I were so stoked to see all of our hard work on a blog other than our own. The more that we shot, the more we submitted. And the more that we submitted, we began to see our efforts begin to pay off. Over the past few years, we are finally able to see that there are long-term benefits to being published. 

There are a lot of benefits in submitting your work to bridal blogs...
1. Getting your name out there for free. Who doesn’t want their work to be featured on a place other than their own blog. Bridal blog editors work tirelessly to keep readers interested by promoting, sharing, and keeping up with the latest trends. It only takes a little bit of effort to get all of your client and vendor information together to send out into the publishing world. The best part about this type of advertising, is that you don’t have to pay to be published. You just have to work hard at making amazing images. When you finally get accepted, brides and potential brides (and potential brides) will notice. When they are ready to consider photographers for their engagements and weddings, they will remember your awesome work and contact you.

2. So many more brides and potential brides will see your work. These days, clients do their research. They want their photographers to take amazing images, but they also want photographers that can compete with the ever-growing industry. The best part about begin published on a bridal blog, is that each bridal blog has it’s own network of diverse readers. Each blog has a specific targeted demographic, that if you are published, that demographic will lean toward your style. So many different types of brides and grooms are reading and searching on bridal/wedding blogs. We are benefiting from their vast network of readers and search engine optimization.

3. Blogs help photographers connect to the right types of brides. If you are a new photographer or a seasoned veteran, we can all agree that finding the right types of clients for your personality is a value to cling to. When I am considering brides to work with, I want people who truly love our photography. These brides will connect with us on a different level than a passer-by. I know that these brides love us because of our personality and ability to tell their story, not just because we have good pictures, but because they did their research. These brides have found us on a wedding blog, they have read all of our reviews, and they have seen as much of our portfolio as possible. Brides want to know that their photographers have experience with posing, styling, and lighting so that on their engagement or wedding day, we will make them feel comfortable and look good.  

Booking clients is what publishing all about. When it comes to advertising, what is the end goal? Is the goal just to have your name out there with a whole bunch of accolades? Of course not! Advertising is investing in our future clientele. It’s sharing our work so that brides can dream about working with us and dream about looking like that one bride they saw on Le Magnifique! Over the past year, I have found that the brides who read these bridal blogs typically are “not engaged, but hopeful brides.” These brides are pining over weddings and engagements, waiting for their turn. They are building their ideal wedding in their minds. Considering that my potential brides are continually searching for their perfect photographer, I want to make sure that my name is out there more than once. I want her to connect with the client that is in the publication AND I want her to connect with my photography. When that bride is finally engaged and ready to commit, I want to be on the top of that bridal blog list. 

Before starting in photography, I dabbled in a few different industries including graphic design, independent musician, and corporate administration. Every industry has it’s own marketing rules and targeted market. Early on, I learned that it’s easier to sell a product when I have a clear vision of who I want my buyers to be. But finding those clients/buyers was a nightmare at best. There were marketing fees and advertising investments not to mention a mountain of SEO costs. There was absolutely no way that we could publish any information for free. The worst advertising industry is the music industry. As a musician there were many performances where I had to sell tickets just to play at a venue. Often, I wouldn’t even get paid to perform to a group of people that I begged to come to my shows. For years I struggled to bring in money just to pay my bills. When I moved over to photography, there were so many more opportunities to share my artistry. And the only investment I had to make was a little time, not paying by begging or performances! Looking back, I can see the differences in the industries and am glad to be a part of the wedding photography industry. I have not only benefitted from the publications, but from photographers and other vendors I have met in the process. There are life-long friendships that I have forged, just by submitting my work to Le Magnifique (as well as many other bridal blogs). I’m absolutely grateful to be a part of this generations submitting photographers.

Recently, I have seen many photographers and vendors complaining about the time and effort it takes to get published. Photography and styling can be personal and beautiful. The effort and emotion that goes into each frame is hard work. But some wedding vendors feel that their work should be published and they should be compensated for their efforts. Bridal blogs and websites thrive because they are graced with beautiful imagery to share with their readers, and in turn, those publications bring in more and more readers who can potentially reach out to those vendors for their own weddings. There is a dichotomy where we have the vendors artistry in one hand and the bridal blogger’s readers in the other. Evaluating both sides, I personally still struggle to side with one.

What other photographers are saying...
Lora Grady Photography: "I love having my work featured on wedding blogs! Certain ones resonate well with me (like Le Magnifique) but it's always such an honor and flattering to have my work be thought of as inspirational for other brides. I'm sure there are many benefits to having my work featured, but lately I've really been thankful for the community among some wedding blogs and bloggers. I've met fabulous vendors, artists and genuinely great people through wedding blogs. That community helps me push my craft and stay inspired to be successful. The networking and support I have received has been so valuable to me."

Blue Rose Photography"We have greatly benefited from having our photography featured on many different wedding blogs. We get to open up our doors to a wider audience that might not have gotten a chance to see our work. We can have our work seen in different states,even different countries. We recently had a shoot featured on a gorgeous German blog, and I think that's pretty cool. Its amazing. I look at it as a mutual relationship between a blogger and a photographer. Blogs need gorgeous imagery and  photographers need an audience and a way to get there name out there. Its a fair trade. Who can be upset with free advertising ? Its also an honor when a popular wedding blog that might get 1,000 submissions a week, chooses to feature your photos ! Its a huge compliment ! These writers and bloggers are successful because they have good taste and lots of style, so when they decide you've made the cut its a good sign that your doing something right.
Submitting your work to the right blogs that fit your style is also great for branding. Brides look at blogs that share their taste and style, so its a good way for the right clients to find you. The ones that will appreciate your style and seek it out. For example, if a bride is traditional and romantic, she might check out Style Me pretty or Le Magnifique.  If she sees your work there she will assume (correctly) that you share that same style. Then there are  blogs like offbeat bride or green wedding shoes that are more hip and funky, so a bride can search for a photographer on that blog knowing that she will find a good match. I also think that if you are a photographer that has a problem with a blog wanting to use your images (for free) then just dont submit your work. Its that simple. Personally though, we have gotten many new clients who said "I saw you on this blog" and loved your work. So handing out images free of charge is an investment for us. As far as paid advertising, if you are a new photographer or have recently moved to a new area than I think it could greatly speed up the process as far as getting your foot in the door. Just do your research and make sure that the blog you advertise on is going to get you the type of client you want to work with..

There are so many styles of blogs out there, there is a perfect wedding blog for every type of bride. Whenever I'm photographing a wedding day I immediately know of a blog that I can envision it on. Besides being a great marketing tool for photographers, brides are also excited and proud to see there wedding featured on a blog that inspired them during there wedding process. They are excited that there wedding will live on, that other brides can be inspired by how they created their perfect day. They are so proud that there wedding was special not just to them but others as well, that their love will be on display, and that is priceless."

The BIG question is, “Should a photographer or vendors get paid to be published?”  If you are a bride, groom, a regular reader, or a photographer, please tell us what you think. 

Photos by Sun and Sparrow Photography via original feature HERE.

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