I have had many requests asking for advice or a blog post about building a photography brand, so I’ve put some thoughts and personal experiences together for you guys that may be interested. Im no branding expert but I know the things I have done that have worked!
Step One: Create a brand name and logo
First up you need to clearly identity to the public what it is you stand for and what it is you are good at. You also need to show how serious and professional you are about your photography. Building a brand is all about appealing to customers, art lovers and the general public. If you don’t have a clear professional logo and name you are falling behind right from the get go. Whether your choosing a brand name based on your name eg Ben Goode Photography or one that is more broad eg Earth Art - the one thing you need to remember is to keep it simple. Theres nothing worse than seeing a brand name that is way too long and convoluted eg Ben Goode’s Super Fine Art Summerscapes. Keep it simple! That leads me to your logo/watermark. It is very difficult to create a nice looking logo with a long confusing title. If you are handy in graphic design you can design your own logo - but otherwise go to a designer and get one done properly. Once you have ticked off a clear, simple brand name and a slick, professional logo then its time to start thinking about what to do next.
Step Two: Choose a direction
For me this was done very early on. I chose to focus primarily on South Australia. So many people have shot the epic spots all round Australia and the world, but there was a gap in quality landscape images of South Australia. I decided to try and make little old SA shine with my images.
Step Three: Build Your Portfolio/Recognition
When I started Earth Art in 2011, I earned nothing for my first year - not even a cent. It didn’t bother me too much because I knew that without a really nice quality portfolio of images I was not even going to be noticed let alone have anyone buy my work. So I concentrated on taking photos and perfecting my style - while any images I posted on social media were lucky to get 5 likes. I began to make a conscious effort to take eye catching photos that would hopefully stand out from the crowd. Lightning, storm and milky way shots were very popular online so I focussed on these themes in the hope that I could start to build my brand online. I knew that they wouldn’t the most popular types of images to sell as prints, but I needed people seeing my work before I could even think about selling prints. Once my images started capturing peoples attention online, I was encouraged and began to enter them in competitions, send them to newspapers and basically just try and get them out to the public in any way I could - all complete with my brand name - Earth Art. While the ‘nice’ landscapes I took still weren’t getting much exposure - my ‘epic’ shots were going viral and my social media accounts were starting to grow. It was around this time my brand - Earth Art - began to become noticed more and more.
Step Four: Cultivating your Social Media Accounts
Social media is a big part of photography these days, and when my accounts started growing I made an effort to build and grow connections with my followers. Sometimes having beautiful work isn’t enough.. people need a connection to it. So, I held competitions, replied to messages ASAP and posted personal stories about myself, my life and my photography. Not only did the effort I put into my social accounts help grow my brand, the connections I built with people all over the world were really helpful and therapeutic for an introvert like me. These connections I have made through Earth Art truly add extra joy to my job and my life is fuller because of them. The fact they often lead to new business is just icing on the cake.
Step Five: Website Creation
Ok, so you’ve got a logo, brand name, direction and you’re starting to build big traction on social media. Now its time to get yourself a kick ass website that ranks high on Google! As important as social media is for photography - without a successful website with a good ranking - you will miss out on so many opportunities. The first port of call for most people/businesses when searching for an artist to hire/purchase off - is not social media, its Google. Having a high ranking is obviously important, but it means nothing if your website is confusing and amature. Probably 80% of my serious enquiries these days come from my website and I have put hundreds of hours into adding content and updating it over the years. If you’re serious about building your photography brand, get yourself a quality website with your best work on it. Then make sure you link to the website as much as possible, from everywhere and anywhere. It won’t happen overnight but eventually your ranking will rise and you will start reaping the rewards.
Step Six: Consistency and Quality
The final bit of advice I would give for building a brand can be summed up with two simple things that mean the world: consistency and quality. Ride the bumps, don’t get too high or too low - just keep consistent day in and day out. Combine that with quality work that you constantly look to improve upon and you WILL go places. It can be so hard, as we all want success immediately, but patience is such an important aspect of photography - both in the field and when building a brand/business. Keep your eyes on your goals and plug away!
Good luck guys! As always, shoot us a message if you have any questions. I'm always more than happy to help.