Three tips to win a photography sponsorship – Fstoppers | Ad On Picture

For many photographers, the holy grail of “making it through” as a photographer is sponsorship. The truth is, it really isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but to make it easier I’ll give you three tips on how to land your first sponsorship.

This article is written only for those of you who are interested in sponsoring, whether it’s for free gear, marketing for yourself, some extra income, or even “prestige”.

First let me say that this is not a fluff piece and I am not trying to sell you anything. I’m literally going to give you the three rules to land a sponsorship for free. Nada. Nothing. zilch. Why? Because everyone deserves a chance. However, I urge you to be careful about what you wish for. Many of you have the makings of great photographers and sponsorships will only detract from your path as a creative entrepreneur. Focus on your personal endeavors first and realize that you probably won’t need sponsorships to achieve your goals.

In case you’re wondering, David Beckham has earned $5.3 million playing football for Paris Saint-Germian in the last five months. In the same year he also earned $42 million from commercial endorsements from his sponsors: Adidas, Coty, Sainsbury’s, Samsung and of course H&M.

Why was he paid for this? Because it influenced people’s purchasing decisions. How many kids bought David Beckham shirts and jerseys this year? How many people bought Adidas shoes after that? It all boils down to mind share and mind share can be profitable.

Could he live on $5.3 million? Probably. Instead, he donated it to charity. My point is he might as well have been playing football and being happy. We all have different aspirations in life.

Before you start recruiting companies to work with you and try to land a sponsorship, I want you to remember these three rules:

Rule 1: Remember, it’s not about you

i see it all the time Photographers want free gear, but believe it or not, most companies don’t give anything away for free, but most offer things at a discount. In addition, they want something in return – something of equal value for their investment. Nobody gives anything away for free (except me, of course). Whether it’s a camera company, a lighting company, or a camera bag company, they all conduct their business by selling products. If you can’t use sales, then you’re useless.

Every photographer’s relationship with a sponsor is different. Some photographers get paid. Some photographers receive “free” equipment. Some photographers get discounts. The obvious truth is that the more you can sell their products, the more you benefit.

To be clear, I’m not saying you need to come across as a seller, but you need to think about creating content with the mindset of a seller, or even better, an entrepreneur. The smartest “influencers” will only work with companies that fit their specific workflow to create a seamless and wholehearted relationship. It’s 2017… people are reading the bullshit.

What value does your work have in driving sales of a company product? For example, if you have 100,000 followers on Instagram and are promoting an image that actively encourages people to buy a product, then you have leverage. If you have 100,000 employees and nobody cares, then you probably aren’t what the company is looking for, which brings me to rule number two.

Rule 2: Depth is more important than breadth

Social media is a great marketing tool for businesses to sell products.

Regardless of what companies tell you, as a sponsored photographer, you are a glorified salesperson for those companies. That’s the tiny little truth. Yes, David Beckham would probably wear the clothes anyway, but why not get paid for it?

I don’t care how many followers you have on Instagram or how many subscribers you have on YouTube — engagement sells, views don’t.

Views are meaningless. Anyone with enough money can drive viewers to a website, and we’ve seen enough click-bait articles to prove it. However, engagement measures whether those viewers engage with your content. Are they actively reading your content, viewing your content, and browsing your site? Active viewers become loyal followers and are more likely to become customers or purchase items that you use.

If your followers aren’t engaging with your content, you’re not converting leads for the business you’re promoting. Smart businesses understand this and are actively looking for photographers who can help increase sales.

I even put my money where my mouth is. Below is a current (as of 30th January 2017) report of my Facebook stats compared to many of the industry leaders in the photography education space. There are several Canon and Nikon ambassadors on this list – while I don’t have the “width” or audience that they do, my audience (total page likes) to engagement ratio far surpasses anyone on this list. To be clear: I have the attention of my audience.

This is a report I produce for myself (daily) and monthly for the companies I work with. My job as a “glorified seller” is to always make sure I’m on top and my brand keeps growing. Maintaining this focus has allowed me to continually grow my brand over the past few years.

Do not do it. Jumping from sponsor to sponsor is like jumping from relationship to relationship in a small town. It’s a small industry – people talk. People get it and they’ll quickly realize that you’re in it either for free stuff or just for the title. Camera makers, lens makers, etc. want people they can rely on, not someone who will abandon ship at the first opportunity.

When it comes to sponsors, relationships count. This is why you can’t have a prima donna attitude and expect to thrive in such a small industry – stay humble and remember that at the end of the day you are a glorified salesperson. If you can’t sell a product, you’re quickly left without sponsorship.

At this point I refer you to the first paragraph of this article: This article is written only for those of you who are interested in sponsorship, be it for free equipment, self-promotion, additional income or even “prestige”.

Working with sponsors can and will take up any free time you have outside of working with regular clients. If you work with private clients and make money and don’t see any benefit in adding that to your plate, then don’t. I personally enjoy this aspect of my career because it allows me to be really analytical and competitive – which isn’t for everyone.

Bonus tip

This should go without saying, but I inevitably get 50 emails not counting: You must be great at what you do. not only good Great.

For people to want to work with you, you have to be able to “play football” with David Beckham. Beckham wasn’t just a pretty face. He was a great player. The same goes for Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, Tony Hawk etc. They were all uncompromisingly competitive and awesome. It’s the one variable that can’t be taught through an article, but through years of practice, dedication, and raw talent.

Finally, it’s important to note that each “sponsored photographer” has different talents. Some are great marketers. Some are great speakers. Others are amazing artists. Every photographer is different, but at the end of the day they are all great at something and have learned to use their unique talent.

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