2014 Photographer’s and Artist’s Market Preview: Sites That Find Clients for You by Mark O’Brien

Build a better website: effective marketing strategiesEffective Marketing Strategies for Artists, Designers & Photographers

If you’re like most creatives, focusing on sales and working on your website are probably among your least favorite tasks. While you may never love updating your website, there are steps you can take to make your website work for you so that you can spend less time marketing and more time creating! Mark O’Brien’s article “Sites That Find Clients for You” will help you do just that. You can read an excerpt from the article below. You can find the complete article in the 2014 Photographer’s Market, 2014 Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market or right here on Artist’s Market Online.

Keep creating and good luck!


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Sites That Find Clients for You: Stop Selling and Start Marketing by Mark O’Brien

Regardless of your job title or the size of your company, one thing is universally true: If there’s not enough business coming through the door, bad things are going to happen.

We’re all able to do the work we love because someone decided it was worth paying us—and there’s no guarantee that will always be the case. Ensuring that there’s enough paying work isn’t something any of us can afford to leave to chance; you need to intentionally and constantly pursue it. But how?

We all have this slimy image of the stereotypical sales guy in our heads, and none of us ever wants to be that person. In fact, you may have gotten into the creative field in part to avoid all that soulless “businessy” stuff. But then, one day, you found yourself owning or managing part of a business.

Time to break out the power suit and hair gel, right? Or not. The Web has changed what was once called the sales cycle into what’s now called the buying cycle.

. . . .

The traditional concept of sales is passé. To ensure the long-term viability of your business, you need to focus on effective marketing. If you invest the time it takes to market your firm properly, you’ll find that sales becomes easier and easier. Ultimately, sales should be about answering the phone when a qualified prospect calls and deciding whether or not you’d like to work with them. This isn’t some utopian dream—it’s entirely achievable. The only thing standing in the way of you and this reality is your willingness to put in the work to market properly from now on. Market hard so the selling is easy.
Marketing is about constantly demonstrating your expertise through your website.

How to Market Creative Firms

The first step in effective marketing is to be an expert in a narrow field. If you do everything for everyone, you’re a generalist and compete against many thousands of other generalists. Generalists are tied to their local market because they aren’t differentiated enough to compete in markets outside of their immediate geography. When you’re a specialized expert, you break the chains that geographically bind you. When you’re an expert, your marketing, which is grounded in your website, has the potential to create an endless stream of business for your firm.

. . . .


If you decide to implement a content strategy, your website has the potential to attract prospects who desire your expertise but don’t know that you exist. This is pretty amazing. No other marketing platform can do this, and it doesn’t cost you anything but your time. When your site is full of content that describes your expertise, Google indexes your site, and when prospects search Google for keywords that relate to your expertise, Google refers them to you. Referrals are always the best source of new business, and Google is the world’s largest referral engine.


Once your prospects land on your site, the site needs to first intuitively guide them to the areas they are most interested in, then communicate your expertise in detail.

Is your site intuitively navigable? Take this quick test to find out. Go to the deepest, darkest, most obscure page on your site (or your blog if it’s separate from your main site), and ask yourself, “If this page were the first experience I had with our company, would I understand who we are and what we do? Would I be able to get to any other page on my site within one click?”

. . . .


After your site attracts a prospect and communicates your expertise through your content strategy and portfolio, its next role is to engage them. This is done through clear, concise and compelling calls to action, like an e-newsletter sign-up form. It’s just a short form that lets the visitor give you their name and e-mail in exchange for the convenience of receiving monthly e-mails with links to the newest articles you’ve added to your site.

. . . .


Most prospects who discover you through search engines and sign up for your e-newsletter are doing research today in order to hire someone like you down the road. This is why the fourth goal of the marketing website is to nurture.

. . . .

If you called your prospect once a month and asked if they were ready to hire you yet, they wouldn’t be a prospect for long. If you send them a monthly e-mail with an article that speaks to the overlap between your expertise and their pain points, you’re steadily increasing your reputation—and the likelihood that they’ll hire you.


Mark O’Brien (@NewfangledMark) is the president of Newfangled, a web development company that partners with creative services firms to help them build conversion-focused websites for themselves and their clients. He’s the author of “A Website That Works.” www.newfangled.com

Excerpted from the September 2012 issue of HOW magazine. Used with the kind permission of HOW magazine, a publication of F+W Media, Inc. Visit www.howdesign.com to subscribe.


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