@huntersdad / brad
Hey Brad. I am not certain what area of photography you specialize in, but I always wanted to shoot people. So my advertising was based on shooting people. Also, keep in mind that I had many weeks without money, and my first year was absolutely brutal. This was the toughest journey I have ever embarked on, but I made it though somehow.
I surprisingly got many of my initial clients off of Craigslist. I am not sure what market you are in, but being in Los Angeles there are hundreds of creative gigs to bid on everyday (which doesnt make it any easier though). There are also neighboring markets in Orange County and the Inland Empire. So I was lucky in the sense that there was a market large enough for me to not only post my services but bid on gigs through the creative services section.
Other sites I used to advertise my services and find gigs on (with much less success):
I didnt have a social media following when I first started out (or any money for that matter) so I would literally do my rounds on the local ad boards as well.
Another method I used with some success was posting my business cards or small post card type ads in Starbucks (as well as other major coffee shops like Petes, Diedrichs etc if you have those in your area) on their community board.
My mindset behind all the ads I used when i started out was based on simplicity. I wanted to create one striking image that I can use everywhere. CL, Facebook, coffee shops, etc, and flood the local market with this one image I knew people would go gaga over.
I used high quality everything. $1/card business cards on super high quality card stock. Everything I did was to create the idea that I was quality. There werent any images on my cards, just my name contact info and "photographer" ... Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication... I didnt want to look like a photographer to the world, I wanted to look like a person. I made sure that I didnt design my cards, site etc like any other local photographer. quality service, quality images, quality time was the mindset.
This is what I did. This is what I would have done much, much earlier on.
So my advice to you if you are just starting out is to push the social media realm like you would a traditional ad campaign. The fact of the matter is most poeple spend more time on facebook in a day than they do on TV. Figuring out a way to engage people online is the only way i currently advertise. 90% of my freelance work (outside my agency) comes from social media. Heres the kicker about social media and the best advice I can give you: NEVER sell your services to your social media network. This is a way of telling your audience that you are not friends after all you are targets and potential clients. I never make offers or request people to hire me as I truly believe it alienates your fan base, which is actually your pool of potential clients and referral network.
What you will notice this way is you will start to develop 3 types of "fans".
1) The Fan
They see what goes on, occaisionally participate by licking "like".
2) The Super Fan
They click like on almost every post you put up, every picture, etc.
3) The Brand ambassador
They actively promote your business for you by sharing your work and gaining you referrals.
The idea then is to convert fans into superfans, and superfans into brand ambassadors.
This all ties into what I was saying in an earlier answer about being THE photographer on your networks mind.
So at the end of the day, make sure you are doing all of the above things. Its practically a full time job managing it but with patience it pays off.
Again I tend to blabber quite a bit so feel free to follow up with me or ask me anything else.
To everyone. Please keep in mind I am not the worlds top photographer. I am not even close, but I do make a good living shooting commercial and fashion. I can only tell you what worked for me. It may not work for you, and there might be better answers. I can only tell you from my perspective.
Hopefully this is all helpful information.
If you do end up following my facebook page or friend requesting me just keep in mind I am very R-Rated. I post NSFW work all the time and curse like a sailor lol. If you can deal with that go for it