One of the biggest problems to face any youth sports photographer is getting your work to be seen by the parents of the kids that you are shooting. Some photographers resort to setting up booths at games and selling prints at the booth. This is certainly a valid strategy, but for a one man show this is usually more expensive and not an option.
So how can you, as a one man sports outfit, market your sports photography to parents and family of the athletes? I was as recently as this year faced with this problem, and the solution actually came to me from the craziest of places. Senior Portrait photographers.
The Ah Hah! Moment
One of the trends I have seen (in my state anyways) is to create these magazines for your senior clients. It’s nothing too fancy, essentially it’s just an album in magazine form. But the kids love these things, they absolutely eat them up. So I thought to myself, why not try and capture that excitement about being in a magazine and harness that to promote my sports work as well.
So I put together a magazine featuring images from the local high school softball team. Again, it’s nothing too extravagant. Mostly it is just a collection of images, some small and some large to sort of preview the season that I captured for them. I offered the parents the ability to pre-order the magazine for $15 or pay the full price of $20 once it was complete – with the caveat that %25 of the profits would go back to the school athletic program.
Parents who ordered the magazine were also more inclined to purchase more prints from the season as well. They would see images from the magazine and want to order prints of them. Needless to say not only did I make a fair bit of money from the magazine sales, but I also boosted my print sales in the process.
I now have parents and coaches from other areas nearby wanting me to come and cover their teams and to create magazines of their seasons as well. I would consider this experiment a success, wouldn’t you? The key is not thinking of the magazine as a product, think of it as marketing that you are getting paid for. Essentially it is an extravagant business card, that people are paying you for – why would you pass that up.
So where do I make the magazine?
I just designed layout with the help of these templates that I purchased from an area senior photographer. All I had to do was design a cover, select the images, and lay them out in photoshop.
I had the magazine hosted and printed through HP Mag Cloud. HP Mag Cloud is a great service, not only are they incredibly cheap but they also host a page for your magazine on their site. So you can – if you want – direct parents to that page and have HP print the magazine and ship it directly to the client. So you don’t have to preorder hundreds of copies and hope you sell them all, you can just sell them one at a time. You can also choose your own markup, so if you feel like you should charge more than I am you are certainly able to do so.
This is a great way to market your sports work and increase your exposure. These kids are excited about the magazine and show it to everyone they know. So with the help of some well-placed branding everyone they show will know your name and your website. So stop toiling trying to get noticed, give this a try. It worked for me, and it could very well work for you.