Self-Promo Likes (and Pet Peeves)… From the People You’re Sending Them To (Part 1 of 3)


  1. 01. Adam Glick

    December 13, 2010

    Fantastic Blog topic -and well written with tons of fleshy bits!

    Also, it’s literally perfect timing as I’ve been wondering about what approaches are most effective when self-promoting one’s own photography work.


    Adam Glick
    Austin, TX

  2. 02. james worrell

    December 13, 2010

    great post, I have been thinking and writing about this a lot over the past year and one thing seems clear. email promos are over. other than that, i guess, it’s do something you love and get it out there. it is sort of refreshing in a way. although there is less work than 2008, all bets are off. one should really do what they want, with all the available technology, anything could happen. and it probably will.

  3. 03. John Early

    December 13, 2010

    Thanks Jasmine for posting up this discussion on promos. I agree that it seems there is no magic bullet. Yes emailers are less and less effective, but I still think one needs to send them . Some people LIKE to receive them. Others HAVE to look at them because it is their job. Even though my opens and click-through rates are down, I still get additional traffic to my site and sometimes generate shows or lunch meetings from my emailers. I also do snail mail pieces and I feel the same about them as well. Some people love them and some people hate them. Every once and a while I’ll do a unique promo like these . Recently my new rep put together this awesome promo. Great piece, although admittedly I got in on the tag end of this one but it got alot of good press, but at a high cost. Then there’s the social media front that some photographers are working as well, and that’s a whole different ballgame with the results even murkier than all the above. Just like advertisers never quite know how to sell most effectively to consumers, photographers will always be looking for the best ways to capture interest in their work.

  4. 04. Anon

    December 13, 2010

    First, thank you to Jasmine for opening up this forum. I think it’s a really great topic to tackle, since I know many truly talented photographers who are struggling with the question: “Photo Editors: how can we reach you?”

    I work as a Photo Editor in the consumer magazine industry and receive the same flood of promotional materials (emails, cold calls, postcards, posters, packages, books, etc.) as do the photo editors listed above, and I have to say I’m increasingly disappointed in fellow photo editors who say they just discard promo cards without even taking the 0.5 seconds it takes to look at them.

    At least 10-15% of OUR job as photo editors is to always be on the lookout for new and fresh talent. Throwing out 99% of these printed promo cards after barely looking at them? I don’t even know what to say to that.

    I do try to honestly look at as much work as possible. If an email promo comes in from an unfamiliar name, I’ll make the effort to click on it. However, we have a very scrupulous spam filter, so many mass emails get blocked.

    If I get a physical promo, I look at it (maybe not right away, but at least once a week). I like postcards the best – either in clear plastic sleeves so I don’t have to open an envelope to see an image, or naked. 8.5×11″ and under, so they’re easy to file. I don’t like posters because I don’t have the space for them, and if I fold them, I can’t see the entire image anyway.

    Booklets (and other “extravagants”) are okay, but unnecessary and I recognize they’re expensive to produce. A tri-fold postcard with multiple images accomplishes the same goal and entices me to go to your site to see more…or better yet, TO CALL YOU IN!

  5. 05. danny

    December 13, 2010

    nice write up. i guess there is truly no one good option for promos.

    BTW…Angie Smith’s link is wrong. It takes you to a ANGELA SMITH, not Angie Smith. This is a great opportunity to promote Angie’s work but someone else is getting the attention.

  6. 06. Callie Lipkin

    December 13, 2010

    Excellent article – thank you so much for sharing this!

  7. 07. Jasmine

    December 13, 2010

    @danny thanks for letting me know about Angie’s link. It’s fixed.

    @john, I agree that e-promos are necessary even if the response rate isn’t what it used to be. I usually advise people to save them for the few times a year they actually have some news to report… like a new book or exhibition or personal project. Instead of just sending one image and a link to your site every month… that is just overkill.

  8. 08. Kevin Steele

    December 13, 2010

    Jasmine, Thanks so much for gathering the variety of responses. My 2011 budget is leaning more toward the personal touch and simple cards – I too am seeing the email promo open rates drop but it is still significant enough to keep as part of the myriad of ways to get the work and word out: social media, awards, shows, articles, portals. Maybe you will touch on this at some point but I’m curious to hear how the editors and buyers use and experience the growing number of portals. From Foundfolio to Altpick to Photoserve to the industry search portals (APA, ASMP) to the higher level Workbook and At-Edge to Wonderful Machine. Just keeping up with freshening galleries across a dozen portfolio portals is a lot of work.

  9. 09. Sarina

    December 13, 2010

    Great topic, nice to see that PE’s seem to still be really attractedt o personal projects, and by simple campaigns focused on the imagery (less on whistles and bells). Very helpful. Looking forward to the future installments!

  10. 10. Jasmine

    December 13, 2010

    @kevin that’s a good idea for a future write up… there are so many great portals (and some that are so impossible to search that I wonder why anyone pays to be in them anymore) that it’s getting out of hand.

    @sarina I love that people are feeling the ‘less is more’ vibe too. Doesn’t it seem that the promos with the bells and whistles tend to win the contests and get blogged about everywhere though?

  11. 11. Jim Newberry

    December 14, 2010

    It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t–it’s great to hear feedback straight from the horses mouths.

  12. 12. Steve Simonsen

    December 14, 2010

    Thanks for doing the research and sharing. I look forward to your next post.

  13. 13. Matt McKee

    December 14, 2010

    A great post! Based on my impressions of the various PE responses, we creatives need to make sure we put ourselves out there in multiple channels, while making sure we stay “on topic”.
    As an industry, we suffer from the same overwhelming clutter of information overload that every other industry is facing with regards to marketing.

    Some potential clients are willing to open emails, some are more inclined to look at printed pieces and others can be best reached by networking.

    We need to be doing it all effectively. Which means better planning on our part, more research and, above all, consistency.

    Come to think of it, with the exception of a few new “channels”, not all that different than the days of yore!

  14. 14. Mike Hipple

    December 14, 2010

    Really great post, very helpful! Thanks!

  15. 15. Sean McCormick

    December 14, 2010

    Good stuff Jasmine, especially since these things are so difficult to track after they go out. Coincidentally, we first spoke after you received a promo from me….ha!

  16. 16. John Fulton

    December 14, 2010

    What you’re trying to do is peak the interest of the editor. For gosh sakes don’t send out boring pictures. Environmental portraits of businessmen are boring. Plus you need to focus who you’re sending them to.
    I’m Photo Director for two magazines with a combined circulation over 2M. We don’t run environmental portraits of businessmen. I understand some magazines do. OTH, you don’t need to focus completely on what I DO publish. Make it interesting, make it great.
    The best promo I ever received? A brown business size envelope with my name address, etc on front. Open it up and it’s a piece (literally) of lined notebook paper ripped out of the notebook with a website rubberstamped on it. It was impossible not to go to the website and check it out. Totally whacky website and it was great.
    Think about a photo editor sitting at a desk with a ton of deadline work, mail and eMail. What’s going to standout and get his/her attention?
    Good luck.

  17. 17. Ronald Tilleman

    December 14, 2010

    Hello Jasmine,

    great information, nice to have a peek inside the receivers brain, thank you for sharing this, i’m looking forward to part 3.
    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  18. 18. Natasha Lee

    December 14, 2010

    Really enjoyable post. I’m a art director and photographer, and the line that stood out most to me was Rebecca Crumley’s “I’d rather see an updated blog to convey the current work.” As much as I love and appreciate the art of the printed promo and don’t think its going to go away anytime soon, it seems to me that maintaining a timely blog/site is really the most relevant way to convey your vision/personality.

    PS – Jasmine, thanks for all the awesome visuals, very inspiring!

  19. 19. Brian Minnich

    December 15, 2010

    Thanks for the great post. I think simplicity and consistency are more effective than fads and gimmicks, Unless you are the innovator.

  20. 20. Joseph Escamilla

    December 19, 2010

    Should have done this far earlier, but in case you want to see an example of what not to send to Men’s Health, you can see the actual promo piece on my blog.

    Perhaps it is too much, but it’s not all the bells and whistles. It’s certainly not a lunchbox filled with diet cokes and cigars!

    In the end she looked at it, and checked out the site. That same promo landed me first meetings with several publications and agencies who said they loved it.

    So to each their own.

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