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New Article in Digital Photographer Magazine

It's always nice to have the opportunity to chat about any aspects of photography in a well-known national publication, so when this one came up it was great to be involved. Especially as it's all about helping others to grow their photography businesses!

Good to have the opportunity to showcase Milton Keynes a little as well . . .

The two shots on the left are the Warbler on the Wharf at Campbell Wharf, and the Hotel La Tour - both new to Milton Keynes this year. Then the other two shots are reproduced with kind permission of Rob Lodge from Tin Robot and Del Bromham from STRAY.

Full article below in case the image is hard to read!

Where do you advertise or market your business? I market my business primarily through social media – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. My main target audience is local to Milton Keynes, on the photography side at least, so I also work with two local business networking groups which have helped me to expand my business connections. They charge a small fee but this is very reasonable when compared to the benefits they provide. What social media channels do you use and are they effective? Twitter has definitely been the most successful. When I decided to add photography to my existing freelance copywriting business back in 2014, I knew it was important to raise my profile and build credibility.

I started on Twitter as people engage quickly through this platform, and by sharing images of Milton Keynes looking its best, I developed a following of like-minded people, many of whom have since become clients.

Twitter can be overwhelming to start with, but it’s definitely worth taking time to understand how it works. With any marketing, it’s all about building relationships with people, and not instantly going into ‘sales’ mode. I’m a firm believer in the ‘people buy from ‘people’ approach, and social media can help massively in developing those relationships. What do you like/dislike about these channels? Beyond Twitter, LinkedIn is probably my next favourite, as the opportunity for engagement is similar, but a little more formal - and is relevant for me as I have a commercial audience. On the consumer side Facebook is much better, and I have an active Facebook page, and local group called ‘Photography in Milton Keynes’. This now has 1,400 members, and while I certainly didn’t set it up as a marketing tool, it has proved to be a good route into engaging with people who are interested in tuition and workshops.

I’m not a fan of Instagram, as I find it one-sided and more of a ‘broadcast’ tool, rather than somewhere that you can build genuine relationships with people. Do you pay for any advertising? I tried a paid-for Facebook advert once and I didn’t get any measurable benefit from it, so never did it again! I just think that social media affords so many potential opportunities for ‘free’ marketing - apart from taking up valuable time of course - that paying for this type of advertising just isn’t worth it. I’ve never paid for print advertising in local publications, but I have swapped images for ad space (which is a useful approach to try) though again it’s much harder to measure the effectiveness. Do you have a marketing strategy? As an ex marketing manager I should probably say yes but the answer is ‘no, not really’ . . . I think that as freelancers we are always thinking about our businesses - how to engage with new clients, whether to test new services, making decisions to refine our offering, researching new marketing methods and so on. So while it’s not a defined strategy as such, it becomes more of a way of life! But when you love what you do, then it’s definitely not an issue to think like that. What top tips would you give to others who are trying to build their brand? Never give up. Keep reinventing yourself if you have to. Don’t under-sell yourself, and don’t give your images away for free unless there is a well-considered and strategic reason for doing so, or if it’s to support a charity you believe in. I have one volunteer project that I act as photographer for, and it is good for the soul.

Lastly, while it’s lovely to have a niche, don’t limit yourself too much. It’s nice to be ‘known’ for a particular aspect of photography, but our skills are, to a large extent, transferable - so don’t dismiss an opportunity just because it doesn’t quite fit with the purist vision of what type of photographer you want to be. We all have to pay the bills too!


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