This is a complete growth marketing framework and guide for photographers, writers, artists, and creators alike.
In this guide, you’ll learn all about:
This framework and growth mindset has allowed me to build a successful side-business in photography while working full-time as a digital marketing consultant alongside enterprise companies such as Allstate, Samsung, etc.
Ranking on the first page of Google for important keywords for my business such as “Los Angeles Portrait Photographer”:
It has allowed me to make ~$1,500 a month in passive income from photography-related affiliate marketing while only working a couple hours a week on it:
This framework has also allowed me to continue to grow my Instagram account almost now reaching 5,000 followers organically (and growing):
My goal for this guide/framework is to merge the concept of marketing and growth hacking with photography, art, and the pursuit of creation.
I want to bridge that gap and provide a framework that is actionable for every artist and build a community of like-minded creators who are passionate about not only growing their business, but becoming the best version of themselves they can be in mind and in artistry.
This is a complete guide and my goal is to establish the framework and introduce you to the five main components within marketing.
I touch on each component to introduce you to the idea and I will have full in-depth guides on each specific component to explore the topic more in-depth and provide actionable steps you can take.
Whether you already have an established business looking for further ways to grow, or you are fresh off the ground, you should get a lot of value from the guide and framework I am going to provide.
I look forward to watching your business grow and thrive.
Marketing encompasses the selling of a product or service through successful branding, price setting, placement, and promotion.
The purpose of marketing is defined by the creator.
You can market yourself as an individual, you can market a product, you can market a service, or you can market all of them at the same time!
The outcome of providing value is defined by you, the artist, the marketer, and the creator.
Whether you want to provide value for an intrinsic self-fulfilling reason, for monetary purposes, or because of an innate desire to help others, the choice is yours.
Here’s an example using the business of photography.
A photographer provides value through the actual service of their photography skills by providing photoshoots.
In that case the photographer is providing value because they are offering their service and expertise.
If a photographer wants to run a successful blog, they need to provide value through the information they are sharing with their readers and audience.
If a photographer wants to start selling Lightroom Presets, these presets need to be helpful and provide value to the buyers if they are to be successful.
Whatever is being marketed needs to provide value and customer satisfaction to the end user or buyer if it is to be successful.
Think of all the current top companies and startups that are now multi-million dollar businesses.
They were all started with the goal of providing immense value to the customer.
Amazon’s goal was to “uplift the worldwide standards for customer service and customer centricity.”
That equals value.
Airbnb’s mission was to “create a world where anyone can belong anywhere,” and they are focused on “creating an end-to-end travel platform that will handle every part of your trip.”
That equals value.
Uber’s mission was to “reduce the need for individual car ownership, thereby reducing congestion in cities.”
That equals value.
At the heart of every marketing framework or plan, is the goal to provide value.
Marketing is an ongoing process and there is no finish line with marketing.
You don’t wake up one day and say to yourself, “my business is finished being marketed.”
It does not work that way.
Marketing your business is a continuous battle between you, the competition, and the times.
Once your business is more established due to your marketing efforts, it can get easier to sustain your market position and I’ll touch on that later.
For the most part, you will be marketing your business continuously until you decide to stop or sell your business.
In order to continue successfully marketing your product or service, you need to understand:
These 5 components combined work in unison.
You can think of them like cogs in a wheel.
It is only when all 5 work together that you can see the power of marketing.
We will be diving into each 5 in this guide and I have separate in-depth guides listed in each respective section.
Now, that doesn’t mean if you aren’t making more money than the previous month that you are getting worse, oftentimes, periods of monetary stagnation while you are learning and improving your skills means you are still getting better and growing.
I wanted to make that important distinction and as long as you are taking the steps towards growth, then you are getting better.
Action is always better than inaction — in everything that you do.
Now let’s dive into the 5 components of the marketing framework, starting with branding.
Without an understanding of your corporate image, you may struggle to build a strong brand.
Without an understanding of your positioning within the market, you may struggle to have a defined brand.
In order to build your brand successfully, you need to understand both corporate image and positioning and how they work together in unison to create, enhance, and protect your brand.
So what is corporate image?
Your corporate image could either be the image of your business in people’s minds or the image of yourself in other people’s minds.
Essentially, the perception people have about either you or your business.
In the case of photography, it will most likely be how people perceive you as a photographer.
I have been stating that it is the perception of your business in other people’s minds — not the reality.
Still confused between the difference?
Here’s an example — have you ever heard your voice on a recording and cringe?
Well there is a strong chance that you actually have a different perception of what your voice sounds like than what it truly sounds like in reality.
See those running shoes in your closet with the “swoosh” on them?
Yeah those Nike runners.
You probably bought them because you perceived them to be better than other running shoes.
In reality, they are made from the same material just as any shoe, you were just sold on the perception and brand of the shoe and company.
That’s the power of marketing.
Now, think about your art.
In this case, let’s think of photography.
I have seen a tremendous amount of very talented photographers who do not get much work because they market themselves poorly.
Now I’m not saying that you should stop self investing in your skill set and invest more in your marketing efforts — I just want you to be more cognizant of the fact that in order to excel past your competition, you need to market yourself better than them.
If you are the world’s best photographer but no one finds your photographs, are you really the world’s best photographer?
No, it’s the guy/girl who markets themselves successfully as the “world’s best photographer” that is the world’s best photographer.
Now that we’ve touched on the idea of perception vs. reality, how does this tie into having an established “corporate image?”
Well, you can create and establish a strong corporate image to influence how your audience perceives your brand.
With all this talk about corporate image, how do you actually go about building one?
I will be writing a separate guide on corporate image that you will be able to find here. (guide coming soon)
Essentially, your corporate image strategy should revolve around creating, protecting, and enhancing.
You create a corporate image through strategies such as a relatable “About” page, a company logo, brand colors, customer testimonials and reviews, blogging, social media, and lots more that I dive more in-depth here. (guide coming soon)
You protect your corporate image through building strong customer/client relationships.
You enhance your corporate image by advertising and promoting your successes to your audience either via your website, social media, email, etc.
As mentioned, corporate image and positioning make up your “brand,” so let’s now talk about positioning which is just as important.
You can’t have one without the other.
Positioning involves you identifying a target audience with an unfilled need and positioning your product or service to fulfill their need.
It’s about creating an image of your product or service in your target audience’s mind that basically says “my product/service will fill your unfilled need.”
The lock would be your target audience that has an unfilled need.
The key is your product or offering that will “fill” their need.
I will go more in-depth on positioning in the guide here. (guide coming soon)
In order to better understand this, you have to think about what you offer in comparison to other photographers, artists, or creatives.
What is your unique benefit?
For example, I try to position myself as a photographer who takes portraits specialized for social media.
I target the audience that wants to build their social media following and needs high-quality photos that are designed and tailored for social media through specific editing, posing, and photo exporting methods.
Since I have photographed with many beginner “social media influencers,” I have the credibility and photos to back it up.
The way I position myself also separates me from mostly other photographers.
But of course, there is always competition.
That is what marketers across the world strive to do everyday.
In order to successfully position yourself within your market, you need to have an understanding of the other 4 components (price, place, promotion, and product) and they all need to work together.
You also need to understand the other half of the “brand” component which is your corporate image which was discussed earlier.
At a high-level, you need to uncover what makes you unique and what “benefit” you offer to your audience.
What do I mean by this?
Let’s say the kangaroo’s pouch is a unique feature/benefit (which it is for the most part) and that you were selling the kangaroo for some reason and all the other kangaroos in the world did not have pouches.
You can sell the “kangaroo” by focusing on the “pouch.”
When talking to potential clients, you can emphasize the “pouch” (the unique feature/benefit) while also explaining to the customers that you also provide everything everyone else is offering plus this unique pouch.
Now, of course, with around 7.6 billion people on Earth, there is bound to be someone else who has the same unique benefit of you.
Something that makes your “brand” similar to another competitor.
Well that’s why we have the other 4 components of the marketing framework and that your brand is made up of your “corporate image” and your “positioning.”
Remember, your corporate image is the perception of your business in people’s minds and your positioning is the image of your product/service that fills the unfilled needs of your target audience better than your competitors.
People often talk about brand without understanding what makes up your brand, and for the most part, that is your corporate image and your positioning.
So now that we have covered branding (corporate image and positioning) let’s dive into the next component (no particular order) which will be your actual product.
In my example, I am a photographer so my services are the actual photoshoots for clients.
Other products I offer are Lightroom presets and professional retouching, but I’ll touch on that later.
As mentioned in the above section, your positioning strategy should create an image of your product/service in your target audience’s mind that fills an unfilled need.
Going back to my example, if I position myself as a “social media/influencer photographer” and I deliver my clients photos that weren’t exported or edited correctly and when they post them on social media they are blurry and dark (not optimized for social media) then my product is not delivering on my positioning strategy.
Here‘s another example, let’s say you position yourself as a wedding photographer who captures light and dreamy wedding photos.
If you are selling wedding photo Lightroom presets that produce dark and moody edits only, then your product is not delivering on your positioning strategy of being a “light and dreamy” wedding photographer.
So you might be thinking, well what’s wrong with diversifying and offering different products/services?
There is nothing wrong with it, but if you are positioning yourself as one thing, then you need your product to follow suit or else it confuses your target audience and they will not have a clear perception of what your company is, what you stand for, and what your product offers.
If you do not offer a product/service that aligns with your positioning strategy, then you will not create that strong connection and perception of your brand (corporate image and positioning) in your target audience’s mind and they will most likely go with another competitor who has stronger positioning.
Remember, you are most likely not the only one targeting the same “niche” or unique benefit.
Let’s look at a real life example with Google.
Google’s brand is well known for their internet search and advertising platform that we have all grown to know and love (sorry Bing users).
Because of their strong positioning, when we all think of Google, we think of them for this platform.
Other than their search platform, did you know that they are also fighting against age-related diseases, offering super-fast Internet, and they provide funding for “bold new companies.”
You may have heard some talk about these, but when you think of Google do you instantly think of these things?
Most likely not, because they have done a great job of distinguishing their products/service with their brand.
They did this by creating a separate brand (corporate image and positioning) for each of their products/services and by creating a parent company called “Alphabet.”
In 2015, Google wanted to “more easily and logically expand into domains outside of internet search and advertising” (Investopedia).
They had different products and offerings but they did not want to misalign with their positioning with Google as an internet search and advertising platform.
So at a grand scale, this was their solution and it is working.
When users think of Google, they still think of the internet search platform, and when users think of Google Fiber, they think of the super-fast Internet.
This is a great example of establishing a brand, and then aligning your product/service with it.
To sum it up, the goal is to have your target audience instantly think of your unique benefit when they see your company logo and see or hear your name.
So for example, if they see the name Nate Joaquin Photography, I want my target audience to think “photographer who specializes in photos for social media and starting influencers.”
If you nail this down correctly, then the goal following that will be having your target audience instantly think of your brand when they think about a unique benefit.
So for example, if someone thinks “I need updated photos for my social media brand,” I will want them to think “I need to contact Nate Joaquin Photography,” for updated photos.
I will dive into that level of product-brand positioning in this separate guide here. (guide coming soon)
I hope you can start to see how the two components of branding (corporate image and positioning) and product tie into one another and feed off each other.
Is your product aligned with your overall positioning strategy?
Now that we have covered branding and your product, let’s dive into pricing and how this component ties into the other two.
Your ability to control the price amount directly ties into how effective you execute on the other components in the marketing framework:
Take Apple and their iPhones for example.
They have effectively branded their company as the leader in smartphones within the US.
Because of this, they are able to charge a high price for their products.
We’ve already touched on corporate image and positioning (which make up your brand) as well as product.
In short, your pricing affects your positioning strategy and your positioning strategy affects the price you can set.
I am writing a more in-depth guide on pricing alone that will be here. (guide coming soon)
There is a price value rule that we all perceive that essentially means that we make an assumption about a product or a company’s value by the price of the product if it is unknown to us.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you are in the store and you are shopping for new running shoes and are looking at two similar looking shoes.
There are no brand labels on either shoe but you know they are made from two different companies.
If one is priced higher than the other, without knowing the company that made it, most will assume that the higher-priced shoe is of higher-quality.
You may not be able to see any difference but you may think to yourself, “hmm, they look the same but that one is higher-priced, it must be made of better material or have better durability.”
Now let’s take that same exact example and let’s say the lower priced shoe is from Nike and the other higher-priced shoe is made from “Nate’s Fast Shoes” (I’m still working on the name).
Remember, both look pretty much identical.
Now has your perception changed about each shoe?
Most of us may now be thinking, “oh cool, this Nike shoe is on sale.”
You will most likely grab the lower-priced Nike shoe because Nike has a solid corporate image and positioning strategy built through years of effective marketing strategy and because it is cheaper than the unknown “Nate’s Fast Shoes” brand.
While this example is pretty elementary, I hope you can see how pricing can be used as a competitive weapon if your other marketing components are executed and established effectively.
I want you to be thinking about the price you are offering your products/services in relation to your positioning strategy and competition.
If you have not thought about it before, no worries.
There is a lot to cover with pricing in regards to pricing strategies, so as mentioned, I will be diving into this subject exclusively in a separate guide.
Now that we have covered the three marketing components of branding (corporate image and positioning), product, and price, let’s dive into placement.
Placement is also known as distribution and it is the process of placing your product/service in the marketplace to make it convenient for your target audience to find, use, or buy your product/service.
When thinking about placement/distribution, it is easy to think of it in the term of “channels.”
The most common channels include direct to end buyer or going through a middle man such as a wholesaler or retailer.
Direct to end buyer means your products/services are offered to your target audience through a direct means without going through any middlemen.
For photographers, artists, and other creatives this is the most common channel since we are either selling our service, photography prints, presets, or even guides.
This channel involves having a manufacturer sell to a distributor that sells to a retailer to send to an end buyer.
As you can see, this channel involves middlemen with the wholesaler and retailer being in the middle before reaching the end buyer.
This channel is used most often when you are selling physical products so I will not be touching on this channel as much.
Since most photographers, artists, and other creatives will be selling their services through the direct to end buyer channel, I will be focusing on that.
I will also be diving into the distribution strategies I am about to discuss in further detail in another guide that will be here. (guide coming soon)
Now let’s briefly cover the biggest and most effective distribution channel for most photographers, creatives, and artists.
If you haven’t guessed by now, that is the Internet.
The Internet has become the most efficient distribution channel for many reasons including:
In other words, actually letting people know about the benefits of your product/service so you can sell your service/product and make money, gain followers, increase brand awareness, etc.
There are many forms/types of promotion and I will touch on them briefly here. (guide coming soon)
I will be writing an in-depth guide covering promotions specifically..
The types of promotion include:
This is face-to-face promotion with one individual or a few people.
An example of this is if you are at a party and you meet someone and they say they have a party coming up and they need a photographer.
If you mention to them that you are a photographer and give them your business card, that is an example of personal selling.
This form of promotion is mostly impersonal and is typically paid.
Examples of this include print advertising with flyers, broadcast with TV commercials, outdoor billboards, or online advertisement.
If you are a photographer, artist, writer, or any other form of creative, then you might not be purchasing TV commercials or billboards yet, I just wanted to list the wide range of options.
Most advertisements these days by creatives are done online either via Google Ads, Youtube Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Instagram Ads, etc.
I’m sure you have hopped on Instagram and received one of these ads by another photographer offering to sell their Lightroom Presets for 50% off.
Well that is a form of advertising through the Instagram Ads Platform and I will be diving into those specifically in another guide in the future.
Direct advertising consists of communication without face-to-face contact.
This is usually accomplished via direct mail, telemarketing, and the Internet.
Most photographers and other artists do not engage much in direct mail or telemarketing tactics, however, they will be using the Internet and it is the most important form of direct advertising in today’s day and age.
Through the Internet, you can promote to anybody around the world through the form of a website or through paid advertisements discussed above.
Sales promotions consist of you providing incentives to your target audience to buy.
If you are a photographer, examples of this includes a sale for the month on a photography package of a 20% off on your Lightroom presets.
One-on many consists of you speaking at large gatherings whether it is a seminar, a trade show, or you are giving a speech at a conference.
For example, if you build up a name for yourself (following my growth marketing framework ;)) and are given the opportunity to speak at a Photography Conference, then this is a perfect example.
This consists of creating press which could be in the form of written articles, testimonials, video clips, a podcast, or creating blogs.
These mediums listed above are great ways to not only promote your business and brand image, but to drive and shape the story of you as an artist.
The beauty is that you can talk or write about whatever you like.
Of course, if you are writing with SEO in mind, you may choose to write about certain topics to help drive traffic to your site (I will be writing about this in a separate guide).
Word of mouth promotion is just as it sounds.
Word of mouth is often the most trusted source of promotion and 88% of consumers place the most trust in word of mouth promotion (invespcro.com).
How does this work for photography or any other art?
Have you ever had a friend of a client reach out to you and ask about your photography service because the client said they loved working with you?
Well that’s an example of word of mouth promotion.
If you treat your clients with respect, provide a great experience, and deliver high-quality photos, that is a golden ticket to an abundance of word of mouth promotion.
These are the seven main ways of promotion.
Being a photographer/artist, make sure you are covering all these forms and promoting across all of these categories.
If you are not, think of ways to start promoting across them.
Speaking with other photographers, I’ve found that the biggest category they struggle in is the “Advertising” category when it comes to running any paid ads on social media platforms or the “Publicity/PR” category when it comes to deciding what to write about on their website to help drive traffic and promote brand awareness.
As mentioned, I will be covering these topics more in depth in another guide so be sure to connect with me and sign up for my email newsletter!
For example, if you are a family photographer and your main form of promotion is via Instagram, you don’t want to be posting inappropriate Instagram stories of you going out to the bars, getting drunk, and cussing at the camera.
You also want to remember the pricing component.
Once you determine your pricing and it accurately reflects the positioning strategy you want to take, well the promotion categories are where you will actually display your price.
Once you determine the products you want to market, the promotion categories are also where you actually promote them.
We have covered the marketing framework from a high-level view and I’ve introduced you to the 5 marketing components.
I hope you are starting to see how branding (corporate image and positioning), product, price, placement, and promotion all tie into one another and how they act like “cogs in a wheel,” as mentioned in the very beginning.
My goal was to introduce you to these concepts so you could start looking at your own photography, writing, art, or creative business through this marketing framework lens.
My goal is to empower artists around the world and as mentioned in each section, I will be diving into each one more in-depth with their own separate guides.
If this guide has helped you, feel free to connect with me on social media (@nate.joaquin), DM me, and sign up for my email newsletter so you will be notified of these new guides when they are released.
I look forward to meeting you and growing with you on our journey.
Now I want to hear from you!
If you found this guide helpful —
be sure to let me know by leaving a comment down below!