Five years ago this month I started Earth Art Photography.
When I first came up with the idea of selling landscape prints through a website, multiple people told me it wouldn't work and not to waste my time. They said things like 'who will buy these images?', 'you can't make money off prints' and 'people won't buy prints they haven't seen in the flesh'. I stubbornly ignored them.
After 12 months in and not one cent earned from Earth Art, my wife began questioning (rightly so!) if this was a worthwhile investment of my time and money. I asked her to continue to believe in me and that I had a five year plan. The essence of this plan was to establish a popular and recognisable brand. Without a name for myself I knew I was going no where.
When my first print sales came trickling through - I realised how little I knew about printing and how out of my depth I was. I spent countless sleepless nights and long days learning and testing... and failing... and learning and testing.
After realising a custom website would be too costly, I found an Aussie web platform called FotoMerchant who were very supportive of me and I paid for their service for 12 months before they made me an ambassador and gave me their top level package free of charge.
Unhappy with sending my printwork interstate I got in contact with Clare printing and framing family business 'Blackman Gallery' as I had heard good things about them. Lyell asked me around to his Semaphore joint for a beer and a chat and it turned out to be the same house my partner and I had lived in only a year ago. It was meant to be! They put up with my perfectionism and do an incredible job with amazing service.
From the start most of my marketing was through Facebook.. but I was not well known and my follower base was very small, with most images struggling to get 20 likes. I decided I needed to force people to sit up and take notice if my dream was going to go anywhere. So I decided to start shooting images that would wow people. I went out during every lightning storm and tried to capture unique compositions and I began to delve into long exposure and night photography more. Slowly things were moving in the right direction.
After 18 months with only a handful of print sales though, something had to change. Up to this point I had been marketing all of my photos from Canada, USA and Asia, through to Falkland Islands, Cook Islands and of course Australia. Surely the wider range of photos the better right?? Wrong. After a chat with my wife one day I realised I needed focus. Competing with everyone else around the world would only end in me getting lost amongst the crowd. So I cut right back and focused nearly solely on South Australia. That right there was the single best move I have ever made in business.
2014 is when all the hard work, all the financial stress, all the frustration started to pay off. Suddenly I was getting weekly emails from potential customers, my website was ranked number one on Google for SA landscape photography and I started getting corporate kit out jobs in. I began to head out on more SA trips and my collection was steadily growing.
The last two years have shown solid growth in terms of maturing as an artist and my business but there is one thing that I believe has helped me to this point more than anything else. It's not my creativity, my marketing, my technical skills and definitely not my people skills. It's consistency. There's a lot to be said for just being consistent. For sticking out the highs and lows and publicly portraying a calm front, even if it feels like everything is collapsing all around. I try not to get caught up in industry politics and even unfollowing a bunch of photographers on FB has helped me maintain a consistent focus.
I've had moments where I want to give it all away... moments where I want to do a massive public rant... times when I've missed out on big sales or jobs... times of extreme creativity and times of no creativity. But consistency and self belief have really helped me navigate through the dark times and without them Earth Art would only be a distant memory.
One of the more rewarding parts of the last five years has been the partnering up with others who have joined this journey with me. From Blackman Gallery, Foto Merchant, and NiSi Filters through to numerous SA accommodation providers and my Photo Tour partner Joel Durbridge - I am incredibly honoured to have the support and friendship of so many.
So my five year plan is complete, and I feel I have been incredibly blessed to be able to follow my passion and live life on my terms. Earth Art has thrived beyond what I ever thought possible after only five years - with 270 prints sold of 126 different images, but now comes the next challenge! Time to start work on my next five year plan which hopefully will end in an Earth Art gallery being launched.
Thankyou all for your support! Every word of encouragement, every FB like and every IG comment all mean the world and I would not be where I am today without you guys.