Upload & Sell: Off
I believe that these days especially, have good sales, marketing and advertising skills is more important than being a good photographer. Yes, ideally you should be both but most Photographers don't know the first thing about sales.
They will read books, magazines, forums and websites endlessly on photography but ask most of them what was the last sales or general business related thing they looked at and most will tell you that's not important, it's all about being the greatest shooter that ever lived.
If you don't know how to sell yourself, understand what people are looking to really buy or how to promote yourself over your competition, You'll always struggle no matter how great a shooter you are.
You might be great but if no one knows it, your just another starving artist.
I love sales and thank my lucky stars I figured out early on how important business skills were.
These days it is no exaggeration to say I can walk into meeting and just take Thousands of dollars worth of work off the competition with relative ease. I can do it charging higher prices, cost me less in the way of kickbacks, against better shooters and bigger, better equipped companies.
These days I do a lot of volume work. Photographic skills required are basic. My kids shoot a lot of events with me and I just set the camera up, give it to them and they go shoot pics that sell very well. Their shots they do are good but there is no real great art in doing events and T&I and the like. The money is made in getting the gig over the competition and then pitching it to the clients in the right way.
When I did weddings and portrait work, sales was hugely important.
I remember one couple came in that had seen a huge amount of photographers. I went through my presentation, did the test closes and asked them If they would like me to book them in.
They said yes and paid the deposit there and then.
I asked why they had been to so many photographers and why they booked me.
The guy said straight up, " You were the only one that asked us if we would like to book".
That's just such dead simple basic sales but none of the other 13 shooters they had been to see asked them. The guy said they all gave them a pricelist and said let them know. No one even followed them up.
You don't need to be a sales Guru, just doing the absolute basics is enough to get the edge on most shooters.
The last dozen or so wedding bookings I have done I haven't even showed the clients a sample album. They have seen the dozen or so pics on the walls and that's it. although plenty would argue, The photography is a minor part of the deal but most people think it's everything and thats why so many struggle.
Last October I rang a potential client and was told they had been using a shooter for years and were very happy with him. I asked some questions, quickly built a rapport and asked if I could drop my sales material around anyway in case the other shooter was unavailable. The client laughed, said it was a yearly gig they had a permanent booking for but by all means drop something in when I was going by.
I did that about 5 days later. I asked to see the person I had spoken to and was told they were on their way out but they would take my material on their way through. The woman came out, I gave her the 15 second spiel, she asked a question as she looked through my folder of info and then invited me to sit in the foyer with her apologising she did have to go. In under 10 min I walked out of the place with a contract that I made over $10K on.
I literally walked up the road laughing and smiling like a maniac. Not bad for someone that had given me the brushoff initially.
It was such an easy deal to make simply because I knew to home in on what the client wanted, not push what I did.
ATM I am going after T&I work again and the competition is plentiful. I'm not having a lot of trouble booking in teams despite that. I have already booked a couple of clubs that have had the same shooters for a while but during talks with the committee I picked up on opportunities to make the sale and I did.
There is a lot of resistance and even indignation amongst a lot of shooters as to the value of sales and business skills but it's much easier for a good sales person who is average at photography to make a good living than it is for a great photographer with no sales and business skills even though that idea seems to threaten a lot of shooters.