Death of Easy Marketing

There was a time when it was ridiculously easy to grow a brand online and find followers to connect with. For those who did it wisely, it was a fat, rich industry.

However, too many abused it. Too many tried to capitalize on it by putting out lazy content, by caring more about the number of followers they had rather than true fans, by taking advantage of the attention of those listening.

Today it is easy for anyone to buy followers, but attention and engagement are impossible to purchase.

Those who successfully grew a brand on Facebook now find it difficult to get any engagement and so many are nor fearing the launch of the new Instagram algorithm will cripple their visibility. Thus the search for the next easy (and free) online channel is on.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe that the best currency we can have is the number of followers we can claim. Yet I see so many with bloated numbers and no business.

The wave we have collectively been riding has finally broken and it has rolled back into the sea leaving us stranded motionless.

We’ve entered into the dark age of mass marketing. The future will not be represented by large numbers. It will involve direct, one-to-one, traditional client relationships marketing. Success will not be measured by the quantity of relationships, but the quality. Love live the new era of marketing.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Influenced or Ripp Off

As a writer I have had numerous influences; particularly the books and articles by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and his personal brand of gonzo journalism. As a public speaker I would watch numerous videos of great presenters and storytellers such as Steve Jobs. As a photographer, I found inspirations in my career from Bruce Davidson to David LaChapelle. In each case I studied their work, gleaned from it and even allowed it to blend into my own creations.

Yet in no way did I plagiarize a Dr. Thompson article and try to pass it off as my own. Never did I present something Steve Jobs did as if I was the first to deliver it. Never did I copy the exact image that another photographer created.

I took influences and adapted it into my own work. That is actually an intrinsic part of growing and learning as an artist.

So when it is brought to my attention that an amateur photographer has attempted to replicate one of my shots down to the identical outfit, pose, lighting and editing; I have to question their intent.

Did they intend to make it their own, but lacked any creative vision or ability to change it? Or was it a blatant rip off with a desire to convince others they were original when it was merely mimicry.

In either case – my professional encouragement is to use your own blank sheet of paper. By all means, be influenced, try things, learn, grow, practice. But when it comes to your work, draw with your own hands and stop using tracing paper.

After all, no one likes a tracer. Props to “Chasing Amy” for the reference.


James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

Your Toughest Competition

You often are, or can become, who you compete against. Thus if you spent your time worrying about those beneath you, there’s a significant risk you’ll regress back to their level.

I try not to worry about amateur photographers undercutting rates or the endless drama they seem to always be drowning in. If my focus is there, it is not on bettering what I do or benefitting my clients.

Instead, I focus on competing with those I feel are actually better than me. It forces me to work harder, improve my craft and be smarter at what I do.

Taking on my toughest competition betters myself and what I offer my clients.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

A Pitch So Bad I Actually Saved It

On March 14 of this year I received an e-mail from another photographer referring to himself as “The King of Covers.” The message went on to discuss the number of covers he has photographed and that he was reading my website and wishes to contribute to it.

The first problem was that the e-mail did not even come from him; it came from someone else who is evidentially sending out e-mails on his behalf.

The second problem was that it read like, and most likely was, a cut-and-paste form e-mail. Meaning the same e-mail was probably sent out to multiple people just with the names changed. It was not addressed to me nor was there any attempt at personalization expect inputting my website’s name (and a poorly done job at that).

However the best thing they did was include a way to UNSUBSCRIBE so I would never have to receive an e-mail from them again.

Why would I have someone write for me who couldn’t be bothered to personally write and send me their own e-mail?

Now place this scenario onto your own pitches. Are you making simple mistakes that could be cleaned up to give the recipient reason to respond?

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto

When to Give Up

Most of my articles are focused on not slowing down, not being delayed and overcoming all obstacles. They are certainly not about giving up. However sometimes giving up is the best option.

Looking at it simply, giving up could save you from losing too much. Yet more importantly, giving up could mean freeing up the resources needed to do something else important.

I’ve given up on a lot of things in the last decade. I gave up a promotions company I started. I gave up two separate magazines I launched as well a third I helped launch. I gave up on a creative collaboration I was starting. I gave up on a screenplay I was working on. I gave up on an independent movie I was a part of. I gave up on being the lead singer of two bands I was a part of. I gave up on working as a journalist. I gave up working as an in house marketing specialist.

Giving all these things up allowed me to focus my efforts, my energy and my abilities on growing my photography business.

Giving up should never be done out of fear. Giving up needs to be done when, and only when, there is no success to be had. When finishing the project means failing in the long run.

That can be a hard barometer to read. Seth Godin wrote about this measuring of when to quit in his book The Dip which I would strongly encourage you to pick up and give a read.

However my measuring stick has always guided me to quit something when it has a lower return than investment and I can apply that investment into something more meaningful or with more potential for success.

So what can you quit to open up resources for your next opportunity?

James Patrick, ACG, ALB
IG @jpatrickphoto

Seven Marketing Pitfalls to Avoid

Avoid the shotgun approach. Whether you are pitching to magazines or commercial clients, tailor and be specific in every pitch you do.

Avoid focusing on yourself and not the client’s wants or needs. Keep your marketing efforts focused more on what would benefit the client as opposed to what would help you personally.

Avoid over-marketing a client. Understand how busy we all are and how annoyed you personally get when people seem to pester you too much. It is completely acceptable to follow up on a regular basis – but don’t inundate them.

Avoid watering down your brand. Be very specific in who you are and what you want to do. Don’t try to be all things to all people. That will only dilute the concentration of your brand.

Avoid muddying your brand. If you are very focused in what your brand represents you should not engage in jobs or activities that contradict what you claim to stand for. For example, the wholesome fit mom who posts the half naked selfies on Instagram.

Avoid letting your competition define you. Stay unique in who you are and what you’re offering. Thrive on your differentiation and do not attempt to replicate what others are doing.

Avoid selling yourself short for quick results. Yes, certain posts or actions can grow a quick following but not long lasting results.

Avoid minimizing quality. Best out the best materials and the best products consistently.

James Patrick, ACG, ALB
IG @jpatrickphoto

How to Strengthen Client Relationships

I hope you were not expecting a magic formula in this article because I would hate to disappoint you.

Developing successful client relationships comes down to four very straight forward principles.

  1. Know the client’s needs and wants
  2. Demonstrate your value to the client
  3. Deliver, and even over deliver to them
  4. Stay in touch

Thus the key to strengthening any relationship is the fourth one, saying in touch. Stay in touch with your clients. What is new with them? What else are they working on? What is going on in their lives.

I cannot count the number of projects I’ve received simply by sending a past client a message to see what is new with them.

Stay in touch.

James Patrick, ACG, ALB
IG @jpatrickphoto

How to Get Unstuck

Professional paralysis can be very contagious. It does not take much to trigger it. The reason being is that it is so closely tied to our emotions. Make no mistake, what we engage in is not just physical labor, it is emotional labor. It requires our emotions to pour our efforts into our craft, to put ourselves out there to be judged and to risk failure in the hopes of turning a passion into a profession

I’ve had the paralysis set off simply by losing a bid on a project or having something I did get rejected by the client. If it is not handled effectively, it can spread throughout you. It will slow you down until it ultimately stops you completely.

There were numerous days in recent memory where I was paralyzed from doing the work I wanted to do. I hid behind binge watching shows on Netflix or playing video games. That was a much safer ground than the hard work of doing something risky.

Over the years I’ve developed a few ways to stop and counteract this paralysis.

The first is to fail fast and hard and then move on. I apply this when I lose a project that I was proposing or bidding on. I allow myself to get angry – sometimes very angry. I vent it all out instead of bottling it up and then the very next morning I force myself to hit the ground again. I already got the mourning out of my system, now I have to get back to work. I don’t allow the sulking to ever last more than a single day thus preventing it from spreading.

Sometimes I will start a personal project. We all chose this line of work because we have a love for what we do – after all it wasn’t for the money as there is not much to go around. So I get to the basics of my love for the craft. I will do a personal photo shoot, something creative and challenging to give myself enjoyment, which can fuel my ability to get back to work afterwards.

I will find a way to give myself a small win. Perhaps it is a small project that I can accomplish successfully, or a photo I can take and achieve well. Giving myself that victory, albeit a tiny one, is all I might need to move forward.

Lastly, I will come up with a list of perhaps five great things I’ve done or accomplished and write them down, reciting them back to myself. This could be the final reassurance I need to unstick myself from the professional paralysis.

James Patrick, ACG, ALB
IG @jpatrickphoto

The Best Advice You Ever Got

I decided to do a source post to see what other talents believe the best advice they ever received was.

Nadine Dumas: Don’t ever sacrifice quality for quantity.

Kim Dolan Leto: Always under-promise and over-deliver.

Tiffany Gaston: Step outfit of your comfort zone and face your fears in order to grow.

Samantha Kozuch: Don’t give up.

Felicia Romero: I can’t control what others think or do. I can control the way I respond to it.

Leah Ward: Never hire a bad photographer just because they will give you free photos. Hire the right people, put together good marketing materials and find the people you want to pitch to.

Jen Jewell: Be authentic. Never compromise your morals and values.

Chady Dunmore: Consistency is everything.

Brooke Stacey: Go with your gut instinct and what feels right to you.

Heather Green: Failure happens only when you stop trying. Don’t be afraid of rejection.

Tiffany Bachus, RD: Stay true to who you are. Don’t change or try to be like someone else.

Alyx Ulbrich: Remain completely true to yourself. Don’t try to sell out sexy for a few likes or a quicker sponsorship. Keep being the crazy tough bad ass you are and people will take notice.

Jessie Hilgenberg: You won’t make it as a fitness model. You’re too short and too muscular. Technically not “advice”, but it has been the number one motivator to reach and go beyond all of my goals and dreams from the very, very beginning.

Lori Harder: Start before you’re ready. If you want to be or do something, be and do it now. Start showing up as that person and acting as if you are, and one day you will wake up and be that person.

James Patrick, ACG, ALB
IG @jpatrickphoto

The Seven Deadly Sins of Pitching

  1. Ego (also known as Pride)

When you pitch and you focus more on yourself instead of caring about what is important to the magazine, their staff and their readers. This occurs when your pitch is entirely self-focused as opposed to relating it to why it matters to the magazine and the readership.

  1. Shotgun Approach (also known as Greed)

This is when you take the same basic pitch and send it off to a handful of publications without ever customizing it and making it personal to a direct target. It is so transparent to publication editors when this is done and it is a great way to get your pitch ignored. Tailor what you are sending and whom you are sending it to. Have a narrow focus as opposed to attempting a wide spread in a small amount of time.

  1. Restricting the Pitch (also known as Lust)

It is dangerous to believe you are too good for a smaller feature. If your goal truly is to help a publication while getting yourself some exposure then you would welcome any opportunity that presented itself as opposed to expecting or demanding a cover, for example.

  1. Being a Hater (also known as Envy)

Don’t get upset when others get the feature you wanted. Realize that perhaps they had a better pitch, pitched earlier or have a stronger relationship with the magazine. Use it as a sign to set up your efforts even more to earn the features you get.

  1. Overpitching (also known as Gluttony)

Although greed and gluttony have similar characteristics, overpitching happens when you try to replicate the same story or content in various publications. All this does it make you look like a self-consumed glutton.

  1. Being Overly Aggressive (also known as Wrath)

It is completely acceptable to follow up on your pitches to magazine editors or to pitch new content on a regular basis, perhaps monthly. However you should not be contacting editors several times a week or being overly aggressive in calling and e-mailing. Be respectful of their time.

  1. Not pitching at all (also known as Sloth)

The one guarantee that your pitch won’t get picked up is if you never actually send it out! Put it together and click send.

James Patrick, ACG, ALB
IG @jpatrickphoto