Does anyone look at source books anymore?

I get this question all the time, is it worth the money to be in a photography or illustration source book? 

I’ve seen source books go the way of phone books, sad stacks of dead trees unopened from their packaging filling the recycling bins of ad agencies across the country. How many creative directors have the time to thumb through 500 pages of mostly randomly-placed single image ads to find that perfect artist for their next campaign? The answer is, less than 20% of them at best (based on my very non-scientific polling of art buyer and creative director friends.)

Of the creatives who still touch actual paper, most of them referred to AtEdge, and only a few more of them said that they look at online directories, mentioning AtEdge, Found, Wonderful Machine and Workbook

A much higher majority of them said that they occasionally use Instagram to search for photographers and illustrators. So I posed the question,

“What are your tips for artists using social media as a marketing tool?”

-Make it known that you are a professional photographer in your profile or bio. You can be cute or enigmatic in your IG bio, but if you want to get found, get literal. “Nashville Product & Still Life Photographer” is more likely to land a job than “Light Chaser, Mother of Cats.” Just sayin’.

-Take advantage of hashtags and location tagging to help target clients in a specific city. It’s more advantageous to tag the city where you shot something than a more specific location, i.e. 📍New Orleans, LA vs. 📍Old New Orleans Rum Distillery.

-Stay active, only post top quality images, let the work speak for itself.


This is not to say you should only rely on Instagram as your sole marketing strategy, absolutely not. I think directories can be valuable, especially for artists who do not live in major markets and those who are more niche. Also, purchasing a print directory ad usually affords you priority listing on the website or in the email blasts of the same source, and some directories also offer portfolio review opportunities. 

And never forget, working on your networking skills, mailing lists, and SEO should always be prioritized over time spent on social media.


Not sure where to focus your marketing? Shoot me an email or jump on my calendar for a free call, I’ll try and help you make a more informed decision before spending money on your next ad.

#ImRootingForYou


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Want some help brainstorming a killer promo or developing a marketing strategy to target your dream clients? Shoot me an email or click here to schedule a free 15-minute call. Let’s chat and find out if we’re a good fit.

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Get inspired, keep up with my pro-tips, and meet some of my favorite clients and artists: follow me on Instagram @amyvcooper.  

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