Marketing your photography when there’s not enough money to market your photography

We continue from where we stopped last week on a subject that a lot of us shy away from: MARKETING. It is important to first note that you should not wait until you’re “broke” (resource-wise or client-wise) before you start marketing your business. It should be a continuous & deliberate effort that should be spurred by a detailed business plan. Most importantly, I think this might benefit more of the creative professionals that are just starting out in the industry. One of the topmost challenge faced by newbies is financial resources that “seems” to be insufficient to take the business to the next level. If you ask me, I think this is a blessing in disguise. Far too many business owners start with the notion that you actually need money to make money. I beg to disagree. This was one of the bottle-neck mindset I had prior to starting and running eloPhotos. After encountering people like Sam Adeyemi, Myles Munroe, Kelechi Amadi-Obi & Bishop Oyedipo, my mindset was be altered forever (for good ofcourse). Put simply, to make money, we need KNOWLEDGE. I learnt from all these mentors (among others) the importance of using what I had presently to get to where I was going (in the future). It is with this mindset I share one of the “marketing” efforts I’ve undertaken that has yielded enormous returns. It is also an attempt to answer the question many photopreneurs have asked (& are still asking): how do you market to your potential clients when you don’t have money? Thank God you asked. I’ll use the example of the exhibition we had in 2008 at transcorp hilton hotel, Abuja, Nigeria. We held a 5-days exhibition at the lobby of the hotel in November 2008. Prior to that time I had concluded in my heart & mind that the type of clients I wanted to cater for were the type that patronized a luxurious hotel like the Hilton: the elite of the society. These were people that were happy & willing to pay between $300 & $3000 just for a room per night. I desperately wanted to understand the logic behind the thinking of such people; hence my decision to cater for their photography needs. Besides, meeting the photography needs of these class of individuals is likely to enable me achieve my financial dreams in record time. Or how else do you think I’ll be able to buy the BMW 7 series that I’ve been dreaming about. Yes, I’ll love to be able to afford the best things life has to offer. Back to transcorp hilton. So I got a call from the public relations officer of the hotel asking me to come for a meeting in Abuja to discuss at length what it will take to have me “shoot” them. That meeting will go on record as one of the most interesting meetings I’ve ever had. I flew to Abuja with the 7am flight, met with the man for 30mins (during which I showed him some of our printed works), and came back to Lagos with the 4pm flight. By the way, I didn’t have much on me but had someone “loan” me money to be able to attend the meeting. I’m usually not an advocate of borrowing money to meet your needs but I felt strongly within that this was a meeting with DESTINY & I had to do whatever I can to be there. Upon concluding that the hotel was the place I wanted to exhibit my works, I wrote the management to find out what the ongoing rate was. This was in March, 2008. I was shocked when I was told that it costs N150,000 (approximately $1,000) per day and I must book for a minimum of 7days. You do the maths. That was so much money that my bank account did not have at that moment. Heck, I didn’t even have money for 1 day & they had the guts to tell me I had to book & pay for 7 days. But then I held fast to what my mentor, Sam Adeyemi, once said: “if you desire it long enough & believe in it long enough, God will fulfill your heart’s desire in due time if it is His will.” So during the “negotiations” I was asked how much it would cost Hilton if I were to photograph the hotel for their 2009 calendar. I explained to the gentleman that for such a BIG hotel, it will take me not less than 7 days with my team to adequately photograph every major part of the hotel….and that it will cost them N150,000 per day after which I’ll present the high resolution soft copies on a DVD. Funny right? Truth is I had never done such a job before talk-less of charging that amount. I can’t remember clearly but I think talking with Kelechi Amadi-Obi & Ade Plumptre gave me some courage as to how to charge. It was at that moment I discovered that the hotel didn’t want to spend that much for the job. Such an irony: they charge some guests as much as $3000 per night and still felt that my photography fee was on the high side. So it was at that moment the idea crossed my mind…u know kind of like when a bulb lights up on Tom’s head (in Tom & Jerry). I proposed that I can still do the job for them (despite the fact that they felt my fee was ridiculous) & in exchange for the shoot, they’ll give me their lobby for 7 days to hold my exhibition. You should have seen how fast he accepted my proposal. Before you know what was happening, he brought out a calendar and was asking me: “So when should we book you down for the exhibition?” We concluded the deal based on what my secondary-school commerce teacher will call a “trade by barter”. I didn’t have the money to exhibit (or market) at their lobby, I offered my services in exchange for the exhibition space & voila (as the french slang goes) I did my exhibition. Ofcourse they will later call me to say that the government needed the lobby for 2days out of the days I chose……either way, I ended up with 5 days of exhibition, sorry 5 days of marketing my products & services to the type of people I felt could afford it. And that “marketing” effort will go down in history as the most successful we’ve ever had. And it didn’t cost me a dime (or kobo or cent or…..). So the moral of the story; if you think very well (pray & fast if you have to) there’s always a way you can market your photography without having much financial resources. Trust me, there’s always a way…..


  1. Dolapo Joshua · December 6, 2011

    This message of your have really touched me, i believe that you are persoanlly talking to me beacuase after DSAP set 6, i have been finding it challenging even to buy my camera, right i engage myself in challenging a job just to meet up with my targeted time to get my camera Nikon 60 coming year 2012…..I know by his grace it is possible, but that doesn not stop me doing my home work on marketing my work (Joshphoto graphy )on social media. I have seen somebody whi has volunteer to build a strat up website for me free of charge, planining to produce my complementary cards, doing my name search at CAC…. Writing my busniess plan,trying to fund raise in order to meet up but i can still start small by renting camera for future jobs.. Please, What is your advise for me, i have two upcoming event; A fashion show December, 26 and a wedding 24th of December which i feel i can you use them as my portfolio to show my future clients, can i go ahead to shoot the events.Please, i need to hear from you.

    Thank You.

    Craeative Director,


    Doalpo Joshua


  2. Spicytee · December 7, 2011

    Nice one… But badly written..
    Don’t get me wrong..
    It’s just the text that was bad. You could do with paragraphs and formatting your text very well.
    I almost want to close this up cos of that. But I love the way you correlate this with your experiences.


    • elophotos · December 7, 2011

      thanks a lot for your comment. really appreciate it


  3. adeola d photoposesideas · December 7, 2011

    well will it be a bad ideas if some up coming photographer with not enough money to market your photography, come together or plan together to exhibition, at list for a start. I think this could help.


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