29: Frederick Van Johnson, Photographer, Marketer and Speaker



Fred_Simple_ShotMeet Frederick van Johnson: Photographer, Marketer, and Speaker. He’s been shooting professionally since 1989, and is also the host of a popular podcast, This Week in Photo, also known as TWIP. The art of marketing is near and dear to his heart, and he has helped build successful marketing campaigns for fortune 100 companies like Adobe, Apple, Yahoo!, and Aol.

In this episode, I chat with Frederick about action being the best cure for those sleepless nights we spend worrying about our photography businesses, and how important it is to have your own email list. We also touch on the harm that competing on price can do to your business.

I want to give a huge thank you to Frederick for taking the time to chat with us! I consider myself as much a student as the listening audience, and appreciate him sharing his extensive knowledge.


“Social Media is a conversation.”


Top 3 Tips From the Interview:

1. Action is the best cure for business-related stress.

There’s no way around this one. You won’t make progress if you don’t do anything about it. The other side of the coin is that consistently taking action to further your photography business can help reduce your business-related stress levels because your mind knows you’re taking active steps towards your goals, whether it be adding a sign up form to your website (see tip#3 below) or sending out a few emails every day to potential prospects. It really helps to reduce those sleepless nights when you’re wondering how you’re going to afford groceries.

This can also include a consistent social media marketing strategy. Frederick suggests your audience has to get to know you, like you, and ultimately trust you. This means that you’re not constantly beating them over the head with your latest photo shoot special, but rather seeking to engage them in conversation and provide them with value.

2. Competing on price can actually hurt your business, as well as the industry as a whole.

It may be tempting to try to price your services lower than the next guy, but this ultimately devalues your work, as well as that of other photographers. When offered a cheap price, potential clients instantly assume your work is not worth all that much, and then their decision solely comes down to price. The true reality is that so many factors must be taken into consideration when selecting a photographer (such as your unique experience, your style, and your customer service ethic, to name a few). Pricing yourself too low turns your talent into an inexpensive commodity that becomes interchangeable with any other person with a dslr. Not good.

Do you want to the “Happy Meal” of photography, or the Filet Mignon?

Not to mention that cheap clients are often some of the more difficult people to work with. If a potential client balks at your price, sometimes the best thing to do is let them go. They’re not your target market anyway.

3. It’s absolutely essential that you have your own email list.

As much as we love the social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, and the like, the fact remains that that they can (and do) change their rules at will, and you’re just working on their turf. Frederick cleverly calls this “digital sharecropping.” It’s common knowledge that when you post something on your Facebook page, only a small percentage of your following will actually see it. And what would you do if Facebook ever bit the dust (blasphemy, I know) and shuts down? Would you be able to reach your “fans” then? No. Would you have their direct email addresses? Double no. I can hear the collective gasp, but it’s always a possibility in the fast-paced internet age we live in today.

The solution is simple: having an email signup form on your photography website will allow you to collect your audience’s contact information, giving you the capability to reach them far more effectively. If you don’t have an email list set up, you can do it fairly easily with services like MailChimp and Aweber.


Frederick Can Be Found At:

» Frederickvan.com: His website.

» He is FrederickVan on social media: Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Flickr

» ThisWeekInPhoto.com: His popular photography podcast show.


Recommended Resources

» Andrei Oprinka on Youtube. This guy has some amazing, step-by-step tutorials.

» Phlearn.com: Impressive Photoshop and Photography tutorials for photographers in all phases of their career.

» PhotoSerge.com: Fantastic Photography training courses.