Use Your Website As A Marketing Tool; An Interview With Veteran Shooter Gil Smith Page 2

SB: What recommendations would you make to a photographer looking to get a web marketing presence up and going?

GS: First, register the name for the new site. Surf the web for sites that you like and write down the reasons that you like visiting those portals. Evaluate these observations and try to answer these questions: Will this approach work to market my work? Will I be able to build and maintain the site easily?

Your first site might be designed through iWeb. This is simple software that allows the new artist to create a site and to create an identity with it. Certainly, liveBooks is a very valuable option. There are also several web portals that can create links back to your home site that are very important for your own website search engine optimization such as Digital Railroad, YouTube, MySpace, and others.

SB: How do you feel about your past marketing efforts?

GS: There are many tools available to the photographer today that didn't exist when I first broke into the business. My aims today are also different from my aspirations as a young gun. As a young shooter, I admired the work of both Art Kane and Bert Stern. I also thought that their images and personal contacts with impressive artists of their time gave me a great course to follow. In those years, we also believed that paid spreads or multiple spreads of your work in sourcebooks such as The Blackbook were comparable to reaching the marketing pinnacle.

SB: What are the big changes you see today?

GS: What was true about marketing then in principle is still true. One must make a sincere effort to continue with the adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words." The vehicles to spread that word have changed. Today, I consider this eco-friendly self-promotion because I use the Internet extensively for marketing. My liveBooks site is now the centerpiece instead of doing the previous 2500 letter mass mailing (the old-fashioned type with a stamp). I also do selective and customized e-mail marketing that does not appear as spam. Finally, I am developing editorial work for specialty magazines that carry my byline as part of my updated marketing strategy. A total immersion in the pursuit of the work is something that I must demand of myself to be considered for the next "Big Job."

Note: As we were going to press Gil Smith told me about a wonderful new example of how his web marketing is working. He was preparing for a project for clients who found his website through a Google search. Smith feels that liveBooks not only has the display and editing functions he needs but also adds the power of search engine optimization through keywords. The new project features the shoot in Los Angeles, the client in New York, and the creative director in London. Clearly this demonstrates how website marketing is becoming more valuable every day.