Dear friend,

If you’re a photography entrepreneur, here is some practical tips and guidance I will give you on getting ‘discovered’.


1. Start your own blog

Signup via bluehost.com, register your own domain name (preferably your first and last name), and setup a blog via wordpress.org. It will cost you only around $10 USD a month, which is the best single investment you can make as a photography entrepreneur.

Why? If you have your own blog, you can get indexed by google, which means, random people on the internet who are searching for certain things can find you!

For example, 90% of who have discovered who ‘ERIC KIM’ is have come through Google searches on ‘Street Photography’ on my article: ‘Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Street Photography‘. Now my next endeavor is to build a new following on people searching ‘photography entrepreneurship‘, or ‘photography marketing/business/branding’.

2. Write blog posts about information you would like to discover

The simplest concept for Google SEO (search engine optimization, ie. how to become #1 on Google for your search term) is to start off specific. Just think of yourself on the other side:

If I was searching for a certain type of information, what would I search in the Google search bar?

Use this strategy to figure out how to title your blog posts. For example, some things I’m sure people are searching for:

I think the best strategy is to create information you would wish you could discover!

For example, when I started street photography in 2008-2009, there was very little information on the internet on how to shoot street photography. Thus, I sought to fill that void, by creating the most comprehensive information and knowledge on street photography (Street Photography 101).

To be frank at this point, I feel that I have done my duty, and now I’m “onto the next one” in the words of JAY-Z, now focusing more on photography entrepreneurship.

3. YouTube is another Google Search

In the sauna at the gym, I had this epiphany:

YouTube is the ultimate tool to get discovered; free marketing and branding.

I truly feel that the most effective way to use YouTube ISN’T to try to make money via advertisements. I think the best way to use YouTube is to get discovered!

When you get discovered by random people searching around on YouTube, you have the opportunity to start a relationship with that individual.

And down the line, that individual might end up purchasing your products, attending your courses, or buying your services.

4. Build a relationship with the individual

Cindy hands black and white xf10

In my experience, most people who attend my workshops have been following me for at least 1-2 years. Remember, with any relationship building, these things take time!

For example, if you went to a random bar, and asked some (very attractive person) to sleep with them upon your first encounter, you would either get kicked in the balls, or a fist to the mouth. That is like the mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs try to do: trying to sell themselves to a potential client too quickly.

5. Think long-term

Xf10 selfie

Thus remember, the work you’re doing right now (in terms of blog posts, youtube videos, information you create) might yield results 1-2 years from now. Thus, the tip is:

Play the long game.

For example, I’ve been in the photo game from 2010-2018 (8 years). My personal endeavor isn’t to become “rich quick”; it is about being productive my WHOLE life! I endeavor to live to be 120 years old, thus, I am like Jeff Bezos at Amazon —

Empires take a long time to build.

6. How long before you can monetize?

Rolls Royce in front of Sheraton hotel. Saigon, 2018
Rolls Royce in front of Sheraton hotel. Saigon, 2018

In terms of how long it took before I was able to make money from my photography via teaching street photography workshops was around 2 years of consistent work (blogging three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Of course, my experience won’t apply to you; you can potentially monetize quicker, or after a longer period.

But the point is this:

Ain’t no such thing as an ‘overnight’ success.

But I think the secret to success is this:

Hustle.

Hustle means to constantly create, produce, innovate, and push your limits. To hustle hard means to have a ‘producerist‘ mindset (the exact opposite of consumerism). To spend 90% of your day creating stuff, and only 10% of your day consuming stuff.

7. Luck is involved

tetris abstract

This is the thing with entrepreneurship: it is all about taking risks, and attempting more!

Because this is the truth:

You might be the smartest, hardest working, and most innovative person– but if Lady Luck isn’t on your side, you won’t succeed.

For example, Vincent Van Gogh wasn’t successful in his lifetime. Nikola Tesla was overshadowed by Thomas Edison. A lot of great entrepreneurs in history have only received glory and fame AFTER they die. And even with you: just because you work hard doesn’t even necessarily mean you will become successful after you die.

abstract

This is why entrepreneurship is so heroic: you put your skin and blood on the line, and the chance of your success doesn’t really lie in your hands. But just because you don’t have 100% control of whether you will become successful or not shouldn’t deter you; even the chance of glory is what should compel you forward to taking these risks!

8. Direct discovery

lines light shadow

You don’t want to be discovered by a publisher, a label, or a management corporation. You want to get discovered DIRECTLY by fans!

This is the sucker mistake I made in the past:

I wasted so much time and effort chasing camera companies for sponsorships, and seeking to get ‘discovered’ by big photography book publishers, galleries, etc.

But this is a bad strategy, because if you desire to get discovered by a middle-man (publisher, gallery, corporation), you LOSE direct access to your fans, followers, and you lose control.

shadows light

So once again, remember– to be ‘discovered’ isn’t like an aspiring singer getting discovered by some big record label. It is about you getting discovered DIRECTLY by individuals, real-life fans, who discover you and admire you.

9. Make great things

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Make great things. Make great blog posts, make great videos, and make great photos. Generally speaking, word of mouth is still the most effective way of getting discovered by other people.

Whenever we are starting off, of course we all start with 0 followers and fans. But even if you have 10 loyal followers or fans, they can spread the word about you with their hundreds of friends, which turns into an epic ‘viral’ growth.

Genius Bar apple store

I know for example in street photography, I strived to make the most epic blog posts on the masters of street photography; blog posts which I considered at least 10x better than books I’ve read, or other things I found on the internet. This ended up being a winning strategy, because by making really great substance, it would get shared virally.

10. Substance

My current vlogging setup
My current vlogging setup

A lot of bloggers and creators on the internet refer to what they create as ‘content’. I fucking hate that word. The word ‘content’ is a all-encompassing phrase to refer to your creative artwork as something that can be sold and marketed.

selfie vlog

I propose instead the notion of ‘substance’. Because what you create is SUBSTANTIVE! It has weight; it has value, it is great.

Create photos, videos, blog posts, books, and artwork which you consider more ‘substantive’ — with more weight, soul, your personality, and your honesty.

Hype dies; substance survives.

Conclusion

Some takeaways:

  1. If you’re willing to take risks and attempt to put yourself out there, you are already an entrepreneur.
  2. Don’t seek to get discovered by a company or corporation; seek to get discovered DIRECTLY by your fans.
  3. Focus on making great substantive information and artwork.
  4. Play the long game. Estimate that it will take you at least 2 years of hustle and hard work, to build a small (and loyal) following.
  5. Always push your limit; complacency is boring.

BE BOLD!
ERIC

Photography Entrepreneurship 101

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