Genesis Examines: How to Promote Yourself (A Guide for Emerging Artists)

Genesis Examines: how to promote yourself; a guide for emerging artists

We’ve gathered the topics we’re asked most questions about which we’re going  to explore one by one – starting with marketing and promotion. Our Client Relationship Consultant Caitlin uses her experience in the industry assisting photographers and artists with their promotion. to offer insight into our next topic; how to promote yourself.

Whether you are an emerging photographer who’s just setting out or an established photographer who wants to continue to grow your presence in the industry, we don’t need to tell you that promotion is key. We’re often asked where you start when time is limited, what you should focus on and how can you best use tools that are already out there to help market your work to the photography world? Here are our top tips…

Apply to the right opportunities

Once you have established which areas of the industry you most suit (have you read our marketing blog?) look for opportunities within them and concentrate your efforts on engaging them to your best ability. For example, if you’re applying for a prize you feel your work would suit don’t be afraid to follow up your application and see if you can get feedback (and keep the conversation going). Always try and build a rapport with other arts professionals to spread awareness of your work.

Know what’s coming up next

Start tracking opportunities like competitions, residencies, bursaries and open calls so that you know what is coming up and when this is due to happen in the year. Note down the opening and closing dates, any themes the opportunity may run with and the entry details. Most opportunities occur annually, so by noting this information down you’ll be able to plan your time and budgets in advance and work out what you’d like to apply to ahead of time (hopefully avoiding any last minute all-nighters!).

Update your website

Your website is your online portfolio, so make sure you update the content regularly (well, at least annually!) or, if you don’t have the time, take things off which might date it – dates on blog posts for example – so it remains timeless and relevant. If you’re a regular on social media, you could also add in a feed from the networks you post to somewhere to your site to demonstrate how you’re active in the industry. This also acts to encourage people who are interested in your practice to visit your site and stay more engaged with what you’re doing.

Have a presence on social media

Yes, we know everyone has heard the importance of social media before, but there are ways you can make it easier to be social and to make your efforts more effective. There are various platforms like Hootsuite or Sproutsocial, which allow you to schedule posts on multiple social media platforms at once – so all you have to monitor is the interactions that follow. Keep text short and to the point, use images (should be easy!), interact with what others are posting, tag yourself at events and exhibitions. Every activity shows insight about you and adds context to you as a photographer. Remember to think about the overall impact your accounts create – from the visuals, to the voice you write with and the events you associate yourself with.

Have a mailing list

This doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you don’t have enough content to send something monthly then do it quarterly, biannually or annually. A mailing list allows you to collate people who have directly expressed an interest in what you do, who WANT to hear about it – and these people are invaluable. Something like Mailchimp is great to email large volumes of people with ease, but for more ‘important’ people, it’s much better to make a list and email them personally.

Gain representation

Working with a gallery allows you the invaluable support from someone who knows the industry and can support you in your development. There’s also the massive bonus of an already established client base who your work will be marketed to, not to mention press links and show coverage that it can be hard to get on your own. There are hundreds of reasons why working with galleries can be beneficial – however:

(You can) do it for yourself

… The industry is changing and there are many more ways for artists to get their work seen now that doesn’t require a gallery. Create your own shows, work with peers, start a collective, approach different organisations (maybe non-arts) to collaborate with, look outside of London… be creative in generating your own exposure. Look for fringe festivals which run alongside major events in the photographic calendar and make yourself part of it.

We could go on, but mastering some of the marketing and promotion basics and putting them into practice – even if you can only put aside a small amount of time each week – can be a great way to start creating more awareness of your practice over time.

Next up, how to use social media…

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