When I am not busy working on PhotoShelter things, I am usually busy practicing my other hobby: hitting the tequila bottles.
My wife and I run a tequila blog, and we’ve been temporarily living in Mexico for the past 4 months so we can get closer to the industry – to learn as much as we can, strengthen our ties, and develop unique content for our blog.
In July, were invited to attend the Mayahuel Awards, which is like the Academy Awards for the tequila industry, run by the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters. Some very influential people in the tequila world were present, and one very smart photographer was using it as a fantastic marketing opportunity.
Ben Olivares is a Guadalajara-based a freelance photographer who has made the tequila industry his specialty. He shoots images of agave plants (which are used to make tequila), agave fields, and the tequila production process.
Ben Olivares has made the tequila agave landscape his specialty. This image of spider in an agave field shows the very iconic Tequila volcano in the background.
His images were printed large and were hanging on the walls, and each attendee received several free photo postcards and a wall calendar filled with his pictures. All of these items contained his branding and website address, and people were snapping them up like crazy.
It was immediately obvious to me that he successfully dominated the tequila photo niche – and it didn’t take very long.
How did he do it? His process for successfully conquering his chosen niche is not some special secret that only he knows. I met with Ben in his home last week, and we talked all about this. He followed a recipe that all “Master Marketers” do.
Ben happens to live right smack in the middle of the tequila region of the world. He grew up with agave plants and tequila surrounding him – yet it wasn’t until later that he realized it was a viable photography niche.
“I was so close to it, I didn’t even see it,” he said.
Photographic niches are everywhere, although sometimes they can be difficult to spot. But once you find one, how do you go about successfully marketing yourself into that niche?
Based on my conversation with Ben (see the video below), and other marketing-savvy photographers like him, I put together a list that contains 6 steps that anyone can follow.
6 Steps To Conquering A Niche Photo Market
1) Know how the industry/niche works, and what’s important to its members.
People who are experts in a niche pay very close attention to detail. They’re looking for evidence that you, too, are interested in the same. Someone who hasn’t taken the time to learn enough about a niche risks looking like an outsider. Ben knows enough about the industry and its production processes that he’s able to produce images of importance that are also visually compelling.
2) Create images that are different than what’s already out there, and make sure your unique photographic style is present.
Like most successful photographers, Ben has his own distinct style. This is important. If your images look like everyone else’s, you will blend into the background and it will be much more difficult to stand out. You should bring your own special vision to the niche through your images.
3) Set up a blog for fans of the niche, that feature your images.
Ben has two websites. One that acts as a portfolio for people interested in his photography, and another one that’s for fans of tequila. By setting up a special site just for fans of the niche, you’re setting yourself up with an SEO (search engine optimization) advantage, and a regular destination for members of the niche itself. This is where you can sell prints, books, digital downloads, and other products that contain your images.
4) Link up with blogs & people via social media catering to the niche.
Ben set up a link exchange with other tequila websites, which not only helps with SEO, but also provides a regular stream of traffic to his tequila-themed website. Seek out blogs and personalities that cater to your niche, and make sure they know about you. If possible, get them to start talking about you. Become known in the niche by becoming an active participant and personality within the niche itself.
5) Introduce yourself to businesses and organizations within that niche.
Businesses that cater to the niche, and organizations who support it, are great places to establish relationships. Ben made beautiful wall calendars and gave them to the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters – who in turn handed them out to attendees at the award show. It was a win-win scenario for both parties. Don’t be afraid to approach businesses and groups with joint promotional ideas, like a calendar, or book, or gallery show that contains their branding in addition to yours.
6) Share your knowledge with others.
Ben freely shares what he knows through his blog, and even works as a photography teacher in a local college. He has conducted Photo Walks through agave fields and enjoys helping people become better photographers. By positioning yourself as a resource, people have a reason to talk about you, write about you, and link to your website.