First, let’s define personal brand: essentially it is what makes you stand out from the competition; it’s what you are known for. Most photographers and illustrators, even those with a signature style, have not defined their personal brand, perhaps for fear of alienating anyone that doesn’t comport with it. But as the industry becomes more commoditized and many art buyers can’t tell – or don’t care about – the difference between mediocre and superior work, it is becoming more and more necessary to be known for something. Otherwise, you’ll easily get lost in the shuffle.
The more focused and clear your brand is, the easier it will be to promote it. The question you have to answer for yourself now is “How can I accomplish this?”
Take a second and think about all of the tools that experts use: articles and essays, books and blogs, speaking and teaching, and more and more now, podcasts and video. It may take some time to fit these tools into your marketing strategy, but explore a few of them, find what works best for you and begin positioning yourself as an expert on your target industry.
It’s a lot for a solopreneur to do, but photographer Robin Hill is developing these tools, one at a time. Robin’s personal brand is architecture in South Florida, which includes urban design and historic preservation. “It’s much more about being a communitarian,” says Robin. “Instead of being a photographer taking pictures of the area for money, I’m a part of the community.”
Robin’s brand is clearly reflected on his website (shown above, www.robinhill.net), but now he is beginning to use thought leadership tools to spread the word about his brand to the right people: those in a position to hire him for the kind of work he wants.
He has an email newsletter and a blog, robinhillphotography.blogspot.com, both of which are consistent with his website’s design.
Now he is approaching architecture magazines and websites with content he has created. On a side note, at times, Robin even gets paid for what he submits! Here is an example of a recent story: South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center by Arquitectonica.
“A niche is absolutely essential to success,” says Robin. “The temptation early on is to tend to try to do everything, that’s just watering down creativity and drive. I wouldn’t know how to go about it if I didn’t have my niche.”
Ilise Benun is an author, consultant and national speaker, the founder of Marketing Mentor.com and the co-producer of the Creative Freelancer Conference. Her books include “The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing (HOW Books), “Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive” (Career Press), and her latest, The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money (HOW Books 2011). Marketing Mentor
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