How to Market A Photography Business Like Jordan Peele

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Throughout my 20s (which I still securely reside), I’ve had the privilege of working in most parts of the photography industry. I was interested in all of them, because I have an insatiable passion for all parts of the photo industry, whether it be portraiture, architectural, product, aerial, fine art, etc. 

In my early 20s, I often mused about having my own photography business. It would be full-service: product, portrait, commercial, real estate, you name it, I can do it. No one really ever took me aside to tell me that it wasn’t feasible to claim to be jack of all trades, master of all, and how it would be an uphill battle to sell and market to everyone. Here’s a quote:

Deciding that the only audience that is enough is everyone completely changes the way you measure your worth and your work. If pursuing a number you will never reach changes you or your approach or your beliefs, is it worth it?
— Seth Godin

The need to sell to “everyone” comes out of the shear desperation of being poor and wanting business at all costs. In a sense, you give up all leverage because you just need whatever you can find, and saying “Will Malone Photography does it all”, puts that on full display. It’s also a quick way to definitely not make much money, and it’s also not that interesting.

Don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.
— Ron Swanson

That said, I really disagree with the idea that you can’t be good at multiple things. It’s not about what you do, it’s how you do it. You just have to figure a way to execute both, but in a smarter way that doesn’t alienate anyone. 

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I think about Jordan Peele, 50% of the comedian hosts of the show Key and Peele, one of the funniest sketch shows ever made (just ask Dave Chapelle). Jordan Peele now makes some of the highest grossing horror movies of all time. That’s a far cry from sketch comedy on Comedy Central. 

Think about this: Say Jordan Peele was open about his love of horror, so he incorporated some horror episodes in his sketch comedy show. Well, his audience would probably do the worst thing imaginable: shut it off. They are there for comedy, not horror. It’s not that he can’t be into or even good at both comedy and horror, he just needs to unselfishly realize who he’s speaking to. There are ways to meld horror and comedy into an acceptable mix, it just needs to be within the parameters of where the audience is willing to go. 

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When you see ads for Jordan Peele’s Us (which Anna and I are going to go see tomorrow), the marketing is pretty clear that it isn’t a long-form Key and Peele joint. I don’t think the majority of people think “Jordan Peele makes comedy, he can’t do anything but that!”. It’s marketed as horror, so people into horror will go see it. (And they did, because it has grossed $90 million domestic).He’s after an entirely different audience that doesn’t encroach or alienate his comedy audience (and maybe he’s no longer interested in that audience, which takes guts) I’m sure there’s a Venn diagram of the people who like him for comedy and appreciate his work in horror, but for the most part, the comedy audience and horror audience are polar opposites in many ways. 

The best part about this is that he can easily tap into his horror audience and his comedy audience, thereby forming a sort of mega-audience. He grew his reach significantly by entering a whole other genre. He now has two groups’ attention. In order to do this though, he had to take a leap and leave the safety of his established comedy audience, which is a scary idea.

I try to think of my photography website this way (and I don’t feel like I’ve done a great job, it’s still a work in progress): someone is going there for one thing. They have one interest or reason to click my link. Perhaps they saw a FB ad for a wedding photographer, so I try to give them what they came to see. If I posted an ad for wedding photography services, then they see a bunch of real estate photography, they are just going to leave my site and I lost any prospects of selling them on either wedding photography or real estate photography.

Basically, I think as photographers, we can be good at different types of photography. The problem lies with how we market them. The fact is, it’s a lot easier to talk to one audience at a time anyway. 

If Jordan Peele can make the jump from laughs to screams, then as a photographer, we should be able to jump from portraits to architectural. Just don’t toss a slasher film into an episode of your sketch comedy show.

Drone Week

Speaking of marketing too many things at once, it’s drone week in the Will Malone Cinematic Universe. I recently got certified as an FAA Unmanned Aircraft Pilot, so I can legally integrate my drone into my business now. If you’ve followed me for years now (first off, thank you), you’ll know I’ve been into drones for a while, but the FAA requires me to get certified if I want to make any money with it. I basically had to take a beginner pilot’s test in order to get my certification, a process which I talked about in-depth on this week’s episode of the podcast. 

Basically, I’m now including aerial photography in my wedding photography packages, but I have bigger plans for my drone that I’ll probably talk about in a week or two. 

I’m currently editing together a new 2019 drone reel after finding my old one from 2016. The music is the best part of the old one, gonna have to find a good song for the next one. 

2016 Drone Reel Throwback

What I’ve Been Watching/Reading

I watched Aquaman this week, and uh….it’s really long. That’s my review. 

In all seriousness, Jason Momoa is great, and he’s the only reason to watch the movie. I’m still in awe of how awful every single DC movie has been. They are incrementally getting better, but barely. Aquaman probably is the best DC movie, which isn’t saying a lot, but they are slowly learning how to add fun and enjoyment to their films. I’m holding out hope for Shazam, and I’ve heard good things about it. Hopefully it will help me pass the time until Endgame comes out, which is probably going to be the largest movie event ever (and I’m sure I’ll cry my eyes out). 

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Like I said, Anna and I are going to see Us tomorrow, which I’m nervous about because it looks pretty scary, but I’m gonna tough it out for my wife since she really wants to see it. (She’s a huge horror fan, I’m too much of a wimp with scary movies). Hopefully, I can also find time to watch the Motley Crue movie The Dirt on Netflix too. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading This Is Marketing by Seth Godin, which has gotten me thinking about selfish and unselfish marketing. It’s really gotten me to reevaluate why I want you to click my link: Is it because I want to make a better living, or is it because I legitimately want to help and provide you a service? It’s really stoked the painful fires of introspection about how I run my business, so I’ve been rewriting my entire marketing plan as a result. In fact, it’s got me rewriting parts of my business plan as well. Highly recommend this book if you’re into that stuff. 

As far as announcements go, you can sign up for my newsletter, which I send out every Wednesday. I believe next week’s will be about the documentary photography genre and how wedding photography is just a piece of that. I’ve been thinking about it because I keep getting hired for jobs that aren’t wedding photography, but they feel like it, because I’m running around documenting something. 

Hope you guys have a great weekend!