The more art buyers, editors, and creative directors I meet and work with, the more I realize that there are no absolutes in marketing creative services.
The good news- do what works for you. If you are uncomfortable cold-calling people, they will be able to tell. If you hate social media, don’t force yourself to post on Instagram twice a day. Stick with what feels good to you (but also, take a risk every now and then!)
I recently polled a group of my go-to creative buyers and here are the early results:
1. How do I get found?
Many art buyers are looking for new talent on Instagram, but there are also opportunities to be found via LinkedIn, at portfolio reviews, in online and web directories, and general web search. Make sure your contact info is readily available on all of your platforms, make it clear what type of photography or illustration you do and where you are located. Use hashtags and location tagging when using Instagram.
2. What’s up with email?
Some love it, some hate it. If you are using email as a marketing tool, keep it short and to the point, don’t spam, and keep your email size small. Personalize your emails whenever possible. Quarterly emails are preferred over monthly blasts.
3. Are my postcards going in the trash?
Yes, probably. Especially if your imagery does not apply or appeal to whom you are sending it to. Art directors and buyers are much more likely to look at and save promos that are larger and well designed. I never recommend casting a wide net. Hyper-curate the list of people you choose to mail promos to, make them personalized and special. Whenever possible, spend the money to hire a great designer and editor.
4. Does anyone look at source books?
So far the verdict is 50/50 with the majority of creatives looking at AtEdge (print). Some art buyers will look at online directories such as Wonderful Machine, Workbook, Found, Production Paradise, and Communication Arts.
5. How’s my website doing?
It’s doing great so long as your design is simple, your images are big (or expandable) but not loading too slowly, your work is categorized, well-edited, and it’s not a flash site. Also, as one editor noted, your about me page is not a dating profile. Keep your bio short and sweet but make sure to insert a little personality.
6. Print or Tablet portfolio?
So far this one is leaning just slightly towards print portfolios, especially if you are being considered for print work, but no one seems overly offended by only seeing a tablet.
The most consistent feedback that I am getting from art buyers is that they want to feel intentionally targeted. They can tell when an artist has not taken the time to research the types of imagery that they source. They know when they are just another person on your un-curated list of hundreds of creatives. They want to find great work, they don’t want their time wasted, and they don’t want your money wasted either.
Got questions for photo editors and creative directors? Let me know what you want to learn more about!
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