Mailbag: First steps to learning marketing

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on February 8, 2015

in This is Business

Post image for Mailbag: First steps to learning marketing

Would you like to read more Reader Q&A posts? Leave a comment below or drop me an e-mail to let me know!


I ran across your blog and it’s inspired me to dust off an old dream of mine of being a pro photographer. I’m a newb when it comes to marketing however. Most of my advertising efforts and marketing would be through social media. Do you have any pointers or tips, or references to books or articles that would help me figure out where to get started?

Thanks in advance,

Marketing 101


Thank you so much for your e-mail and your readership! Excited to hear you’re going to make a go at the dream of being a pro photographer. It’s never too late – my ‘most experienced’ reader is 88 years old and still learning and hustling!

The best books I know on advertising and marketing for part time photographers are:

Read more inside…


It’s time to Do The Work

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on January 14, 2015

in This is Business

Post image for It’s time to Do The Work

It’s time.

Not for another kick-off-the-new-year ra ra cheerleader post.

Not for another “this will be the year that you make your dreams come true” pep talk.

Not for another January where you get excited, make some awesome to-do lists, then get to March or August or next New Year’s and realize with numb regret how little you’ve done.

(You know you’re not living right when you’re so used to disappointing yourself that your don’t even feel regret anymore.)

It’s time to reframe the entire discussion, in your head and with those whom you’ve told your dreams, into one of excitement and conviction.

Damnit y’all, you and I and everyone in this position where we have a camera in our hands and a dream in our hearts are blessed.

We have the opportunity to exercise our art to create a side income for ourselves and our families.

We have the opportunity to earn benefits artistic, financial and social through our work.

We are lucky. We are envied by those less fortunate across the globe.

Living your dream of being a part time professional photographer is just a choice away. We have no one whose permission we have to ask – the opportunity is there if we want to take it.

But we aren’t acting blessed, are we?

We’re not acting lucky, or graced with opportunity, or empowered to make the choices that will shape our future.

Instead, we choose through inaction to be scared.

We choose through inaction to be unworthy.

We choose through inaction to be weak.

We choose to read another book and another blog post, to hack through another Photoshop tutorial, to pour over a dozen more camera body or lens reviews or sample shots.

We choose to do none of the things, take none of the actions, which we perceive as introducing the chance of discomfort or failure. We choose to fear discomfort (which is not unhappiness) more than we fear disappointing ourselves.

It’s time.

Read more inside…


14 ways you’re NOT ruining the photography industry

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on November 11, 2014

in This is Art,This is Business,This is Life

Post image for 14 ways you’re NOT ruining the photography industry

If you’re tired of being spoken down to, degraded, discouraged and treated like a cancer on the photography industry – this one’s for you.

PTP exists because of posts like this:

Dear cheap-but-good photographer: you are ruining my life and this industry“, by the talented and tenacious photographer Jamie Pflughoeft of Cowbelly Pet Photography up in Seattle.

Jamie is a wonderfully talented artist, a leader in the pet photography niche. She is worth every penny she asks and her art is a true blessing to her clients, a value we should all strive to give. Let me be clear: I absolutely respect Jamie and the work she does, for her clients and fellow photographers.

But in her post, and in much of the established photography industry, there is a frustration that is violently misdirected toward startup and low-end photographers like you and me.

That discouraging voice greatly slowed my growth as a professional photographer throughout my career, and is why for five years now I’ve been writing PTP, to give startup photographers a voice of encouragement and realistic guidance as they embark on the amazing journey of becoming a working artist.

Folks, Jamie is frustrated.

As most grognards are – nobody without a fear of scarcity reacts so strongly to aggressive competition, either manifest presently or the perceived potential.

With lower barriers to entry in the portraiture industry (the digital revolution), there has been a flood of newcomers offering, as Jamie frames it, “cheap-but-good” options in every market.

Jamie, with intense frustration, contends that those cheap-but-good photographers are ruining her life and the photography industry.

Whoops…let me slip my hand up. Duly convicted.

Read more inside…


The power of taking more photos

November 7, 2014
Thumbnail image for The power of taking more photos

In the world of sales, there is a classic truism:

“If you want to make more money, make more sales calls.”

Once you’ve got your prospect list and lead generation down pat, the only thing left to do is Make The Ask.

The more you ask, the better you get at it – the more comfortable, confident, articulate, and effective you get at asking for someone’s business.

There are reasonable limits, a point of burnout and diminishing returns, but you can figure the guy or gal who’s trying a little harder than everyone else is going to grow faster – in their role and in their wallet.

This is true also for your photography business – if you’re just sitting around waiting for the tour bus to show up with a year’s clientele onboard, that bus ain’t gonna come.

But today let’s translate this concept into your art.

“If you want to make more money, make more photos.”

I can almost guarantee you aren’t taking enough photos.

(If you felt your gut tighten a bit, you know I’m right.)

Read more inside…

Read the full article →

How do people know you’re a professional photographer?

October 28, 2014
Thumbnail image for How do people know you’re a professional photographer?

“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6, The King James Bible

“Er’ry day I’m hust-a-lin'” – Rick Ross

If you’re not getting any business, it may well be because nobody knows you’re a photographer.

[Geez, it’s the little things that get us sometimes, right?]

Okay, your mom knows, a few Facebook friends have seen your announcement about going pro, but shaking hands with someone at the PTO meeting, or stepping past someone on the sidewalk – how do they know you’re a professional photographer?

We all fall into the passive marketing trap: “I’m just going to quietly hang my shingle over here and see who wants to book.”

We feel safer this way, as though each booking is a pleasant surprise.

But with the competition the digital age has brought, getting those first (and continuing) paid shoots is a hustler’s game.

You’re gonna have to work for it.

Let me focus here on just the “How would they know?” question.

Read more inside…

Read the full article →

The unsupportive spouse, and why it’s your fault

October 5, 2014
Thumbnail image for The unsupportive spouse, and why it’s your fault

My wife and I got into a fight because of you.

And it was all my fault.

But I’ll tell that story in a minute…

There is a harsh reality of change, of resistance arising in response to you chasing your dreams:

The folks who love you won’t get it.

In fact, they’re going to push back.

They’re going to misunderstand.

They’re going to discourage you.

But you need to recognize, the same fear you’ve experienced about going pro is the same fear they’re feeling, but for different reasons.

One dear PTP reader wrote me recently that her husband doesn’t understand the time she’s putting into her ‘hobby.’

This is a tale told many times by all kinds of artists, creators and makers as they pursued their passions.

“Why are you putting so much time into that? You have more important things to do.”

Read more inside…

Read the full article →

The two biggest fears of artists-turned-owners

September 1, 2014
Thumbnail image for The two biggest fears of artists-turned-owners

Two of the biggest fears we artists-turned-owners have about ‘going pro’ are:

1. Selling ourselves

2. Selling our art

The positive attention and encouragement we receive as enthusiastic amateurs can give us a false impression that we don’t have to ‘work’ to earn business – that we can just exist, just hang our shingle, publish our work to our portfolio site and Facebook, and paying clients will beat a path to our door.

Typically introverts, folks like you and me are fueled from within instead of without. Shy or not, social situations deplete us more than they energize us, and our alone time is where we regroup and recharge.

We’re also humble creatures. We’re quiet, unassuming, and while we don’t brag, we enjoy positive attention as much as anyone.

So the prospect of marketing and selling – getting our art, name, and message in front of our ideal clients – sends a lump straight to our throats.

The only thing most human beings fear more than death is public speaking, and both marketing and selling feel like close siblings to this boogeyman.

So what’s an introvert to do?

Read more inside…

Read the full article →