Monday, September 2, 2013

Preparing for a gallery exhibit, part 4: promoting your work online

I know next to nothing about marketing. But the reality is, I need to market my photography work if I want to sell it. Not only that, I have 35 prints ready to show in gallery exhibits (one in November, the other in March). What am I going to do with all those prints? Hopefully sell them! I do not mean any disrespect to the professionals nature photographers trying to make a living. So who am I to step into this world, especially being relatively new to it (I began less than 10 years ago) and think that people will buy or display my work? But here is what is driving my madness; I believe I have found a niche and have been validated with three upcoming gallery exhibits that are specific to The Everglades and Biscayne Bay. So maybe, just maybe I could take my madness to the next level. And maybe, someone reading this will find themselves in the same boat and this little blog might be of help to him or her.

The gallery exhibits will be a direct way of finding buyers, but I also need to set up an online site for ongoing sales as my work progresses, perhaps broadens and hopefully improves. Parallel to all the work put into the exhibits, I also had to work on marketing possibilities. With that, I have been completely disoriented with the business of online webhosting for photographers. It is mind blowing the amount of webhosting businesses that are out there. What are others using? That's the first step in figuring this out, no need to re-invent the wheel as there are as many websites as there are photographers selling their work. So I cruised around and checked out several artists' websites, and researched several webhosting businesses tailored to photographers. The first jolt of reality came when I looked at the cost.

I drew the conclusion that at this point, I cannot justify the cost of a professional-level website which can run into the thousands upfront and hundreds per year to maintain. However, I do want a website that will showcase my work and hopefully allow me to sell my prints. There appears to be several webhosts with reasonable costs, such as SmugMug. Right now, I am considering SmugMug which has a cost of only $60 per year for the power level (it allows sales). Comparatively speaking, this is quite cheap!

In the meantime, I already have a website that I created back in 2007 through Yahoo small business. I pay $13 per month for it. It is not designed for photographers and when I originally put it together it was not with the intention of showcasing my photography. Within the limitations of the site, I recently restructured it to advertise my gallery exhibits and provide links to my pbase galleries, which at this time are the only galleries I have online. Now, I need to move away from all that and create a site that is devoted to my photography, put my best foot forward and showcase those images I want to sell and/or help me gain some recognition.

I believe that the gallery exhibits, though small in scale, will be the first step toward recognition, but I need to prepare for the opportunities that may come from them. Therefore, it is so important that once I commit to a webhost site, I set it up the right way. I have spent a lot of money and time lately on my photography, so there is no room for wasting money or time. I hope that I may add another blog in the future that describes some successes in selling my work, and perhaps will share some of the pitfalls to avoid. The true test will be that by the end of next year, the prints that are currently being stored at home will all be gone and displayed in other public or private spaces.

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