Photography Workshops; Marketing Tool And/Or Revenue Source Page 2
SB: What have you found are the best publicity and marketing tools to promote the workshops?
James Sullivan: Word of mouth is still the best, as are the usual methods. Putting your face on your company/workshop brand, e.g., responding personally to phone calls, e-mails, or even via web posts, is what will keep people coming back long term. You don’t need business school for this stuff; most of it is common sense.
As for social networking, I hate it. If there was a way to use these social networks for actual networking to a specific and targeted demographic then it would make sense. Unfortunately, at present this is not the case. Having said that, I do have those same social-networking accounts like everyone else but I limit my time on them to 10 minutes; otherwise it takes me away from doing my real work. I have on occasion found it to increase my business a whole 1 percent, depending on the content I am presenting and the time of year, but that same increase could have also been attained by putting the same time and money into a more effective direct marketing campaign. I can also increase sales simply by being consistent and providing quality web posts.
After 12 years, I think the best method is still newsletters and a highly targeted e-mail campaign to only the audience who is appropriate for your workshops. Creating these lists is very time consuming but I think it’s time better spent than being on Twitter or Facebook, and it ensures that you get results.
Julie Diebolt Price: I have developed a little following from my classes and am picking up new students almost daily. I create projects and broadcast them on the two Meetup.com sites that I sponsor. One is in California and the other in the Pacific Northwest. This has been the best way to reach interested people. They sign up if they are interested and there is no pressure. It is also very interactive, which users are very receptive to these days.
In March 2010, I featured basic digital photography classes on Groupon.com at: www.groupon.com/r/uu1342374. It is an online coupon from your local merchants, bars, restaurants, service providers. Viewers select a city (or cities) and every morning a discount coupon is waiting in their e-mail Inbox. My key to success is to be on the front edge of technology and then be able to translate and deliver the message to those who are seeking this information.
David H. Wells: I tried running workshops on my own and found I lacked the needed marketing muscle so I mostly work with other organizations that arrange the classes and get the students. You can, in theory, make more money doing it on your own but I feel that is not a good use of my time.
In these workshops, I get a lot of repeat students. Also, happy students tell others so I get good word of mouth from people who took previous classes. The organizations I work with know I do a good job from the evaluations the students complete at the end of the classes so they also steer students my way.
The Wells Point has been a great tool to show potential students how I think and work as a teacher and photographer. I also do a monthly newsletter from The Wells Point. It goes out to 1800 plus subscribers and they seem to often pass it along to others.
Paul Berg: The camera store that I’ve partnered with (Calumet Photographic) takes care of most of the marketing with its website and e-mail promotions. You can register online for the classes. I also send out e-blasts to my former students.
Scott Bourne: An up-to-date web presence is required. I’ve done really well with blogs but none of it would work for me without Twitter. That’s the glue for everything I do. It wasn’t always that way but it sure is important to me now. One advantage of 80,000 followers is the economies of scale work in my favor if I am merely trying to sign up 150 people out of 80,000.
SB: How has the workshop business affected your photography business? Is it a revenue source or a marketing tool?
David H. Wells: Workshops have become a big part of my business, but not because of the pay. The pay is not why most workshop instructors do classes. For me, teaching helps me clarify my thinking and eventually my teaching, so I grow as a teacher and as a photographer. It gets me to interesting places, often at times of the year when it is cold in New England where I live. Teaching allows me to shoot stock, which is still a decent, if declining, source of revenue for me. It allows me to experiment with techniques and software I can either incorporate into my creative process or teach students. Many people can take great pictures but not everybody can teach the skill to others.
Scott Bourne: For a few years the workshops were a revenue source but now 80 percent of the time it’s just marketing, name awareness, brand building. I am able to make a living selling my work.
Paul Berg: It’s gotten me more business for seminars, one-on-one and small group instruction. It’s helped build my reputation as a photographer and trainer. It’s been both a revenue source and marketing tool.
James Sullivan: In my case, the workshops afforded me the opportunity to tailor my daily schedule so that I could be a dad on some weekdays and take my daughter to school, piano, ballet, karate, play dates, violin, and help with schoolwork.
I never got into the business of producing the workshops with the intention of making tons of money, which is why I still work on shoots for select clients. What few fail to realize is the actual amount of work and the marketing it takes to maintain the workshops. Production costs are the single largest expense when producing a quality workshop or event. People see a workshop course fee and think the guy producing it is racking in thousands of dollars, but without vendor support (regardless of how small that contribution may be) the workshop cannot survive. In many instances if a workshop cannot get sold out the presenter or producer goes away breaking even or ends up taking a loss.
Julie Diebolt Price: The workshop business is an integral part of my photography business. My intent was to become an expert in my field, then start teaching and author a book, so I wrote Babyboomers’ Guide to Digital Photography. It is now a significant source of my income. It is also a marketing tool, because I have been hired to provide services to corporations (my target market). It is exciting and challenging to see my business evolve. You can make a business plan for 3-5 years. However, without knowing where technology will lead us, you have to be flexible and ready to embrace new opportunities to stay in business.