A&P EDU: How to make a bazillion dollars on Craiglist!

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by Jcolman, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    I’ve been asked to create an EDU on this topic. I’m in no way a creative writer or graphic designer so take what I say with a grain of salt and feel free to come up with your own methodology that fits your style.

    Craigslist is a free online advertising medium that has paid huge dividends for me.

    First, you have to get over the stigma of being a “Craigslist photographer”. CL is often viewed as a place where bottom feeders go scrapping for the best deal and cheap no-talent guys with cameras try to land wedding gigs for $100.

    This is all true.

    However there are also many people who search CL for an affordable photographer and are willing to pay decent rates when they fine one. I’m one of the more expensive CL photographers in my area but I’ve booked over $20k in weddings this year thanks to CL so I’m laughing all the way to the bank.

    This EDU is how I advertise. Your results may vary.

    Ok, first you have to be a decent photographer. This goes without saying. You may land some gigs by simply being cheap but you have to show and demonstrate talent if you’re going to continue to get gigs.

    So, if you don’t already have a CL account, sign up. It’s free. You’ll need to give them your email address. I use two different email addresses. I’ll tell you why later.

    Next, you need an online photo hosting site that lets you link html code. This is important. It’s how you get your photos displayed on your ad. I use Photobucket. There are other hosting sites out there.

    Now you’re ready to create your ad. I use Photoshop to create several different montages of photos that display some of my work. Others use single photos. I like the idea of a montage because you can display more of your work. Here is a sample of one of my montages.

    [​IMG]

    Note that I have my name on the montage. I think this is important for branding your image but it’s not necessary. If you don’t want to learn how to create a montage in PS, you can simply use single photos that show your work.

    Now that you have a montage or selection of images, write your ad copy. I usually write several and rotate them so as not to get stale. I like to keep my copy short and to the point. I use words like “Affordable” “Professional” “Experienced” in my copy. Do whatever works for you but don’t get too wordy. I’ve seen some ads that make my head hurt from all the words. Don’t be that guy. The whole point of an ad is to drive people to your website not educate them on the finer points of your journalistic style of natural light photography.

    Now you’re ready to publish your ads. Go to CL. Look for “services” on the main page. Click on the “creative” or “event” link. This will take you all the other guys who post their ads. Read a few and get an idea of your competition. Strive to be better copywriters than them.

    Once you’ve clicked on the link, you’ll see a [post] icon in the upper right hand corner. Click on it and it takes you to the category page. Select the proper category you want your ad in. I post in the “creative” and “event” sections. This is where having two email addresses comes in handy. CL will only let you post two ads in a 24 hour period. Sometimes I don’t have time to wait so I’ll post an ad the next day before my 24 hours is up by simply signing in under my second email address.

    Click on the category you want to post in. Under “posting title” be creative and enter something like ***Professional Photography at affordable pricing***. Mix it up a bit so that you don’t use the same boring title every day. In the “specific location” box, you can put your town or the region. I like to put the region I work in. Next, in the “reply to” it will have your email address. You have the choice of showing it, hiding it or anonymizing (is that even a word?) your email address. I use the “hide” button so that I don’t get spammed by bots. Spamming is rampart in CL world. Hiding your email address is the only way I know of to prevent it. If you choose to hide your email address, you will need to have some way for people to contact you when they read your ad. I do this by posting my website address as a click thru in the body of the ad. To do this, you have to write out the http://www.yourwebsite.com otherwise it won’t show up as a clickable link. Obviously you need to have your contact information in your website.

    Next copy and paste the ad you created in the “posting description” box. I keep several ads in MSword so that I can simply copy and paste. I also keep my html links there as well. Saves a lot of time. However, remember what I said about keeping your ads fresh. Write some clever copy from time to time. I recently wrote an ad that said “Professional Photography-New and improved! Tastes great too!!” just for shits and giggles.

    To add photos, either the montages you created or individual photos, go to your photo hosting site and copy and paste the html code, not the img tags. Img tags won’t show up on CL. You can basically post as many pics as you want but keep it reasonable. You don’t want to overwhelm your potential clients with too much drivel. Again, the point is to get them to go to your website.

    Once you’re done, hit “enter”. This takes you to the final page where you have to enter the code they give you. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Assuming you entered the code correctly you’re done. CL will send you an email that tells you that your ad will be posted shortly and gives you a link if you need to edit or delete your ad.

    That’s it. Do this a few times a week and assuming you have some modicum of talent, wait for the clients to start calling and the big bucks to start rolling in!

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2009
  2. GlobeGuy

    GlobeGuy New Member

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    Do you insure your gear? Do you have a liability insurance? If yes, did you when you first started?

    I can't imagine having all the insurance you are suppose to have when you first start off, not knowing how well you will do in the business.
     
  3. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Yes and Yes. Buying insurance was one of the first things I did. It costs me about $400 year but it's well worth it.
     
  4. Wobistdu

    Wobistdu Guest

    ifl to read thanks
     
  5. PackingMyBags

    PackingMyBags New Member

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    Great writeup. Ive done the same for selling cars. I need to figure out how to do a montage though. Yours is quite appealing.
     
  6. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Thanks! It's not difficult to create a montage but it does take a little time. Basically you create a background, say 8x5" then copy and paste photos on different layers until you have the montage. Collapse the layers and save as a jpeg and you're good to go!
     
  7. PackingMyBags

    PackingMyBags New Member

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    Nice! ill have to try that.
     
  8. Waddup you?

    Waddup you? OT Supporter

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    not that I'm OTAP e-cool, but this is definitely sticky worthy for those that are looking to up their game.
     
  9. twinturboteddy

    twinturboteddy Bling Bling!

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    I'm speechless.
     
  10. FusionZ06

    FusionZ06 /\__/\__/\__0>

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    If I had more time I'd easily do this on the weekend. Between law school and my IT/Server management I stay really busy :o
     
  11. 3-THREE-7

    3-THREE-7 New Member

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    I don't know if kijiji.com is big in the States. It's a pretty big competitor to Craigslist here. Also free, no account necessary. Wouldn't hurt to throw out some more free advertising.
     
  12. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    No you're not.
     
  13. Nader_D

    Nader_D HAHAHEHHUH ---- POOOHhHhHHCHhh! OT Supporter

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    :bowdown: as always, very helpful jcolman :bowdown:
     
  14. AmosBanks

    AmosBanks New Member

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    Thank you. I may start taking Chicago by storm. I bring my camera when my kids are invited to birthday parties and the parents always enjoy my photos.
     
  15. Tonster MBA

    Tonster MBA OT'r of the Year 2013 OT Supporter

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    jcole: Do you know of any way I can insure my camera equipment out side of the U.S. My current renters policy wont cover me nor will the home owners insurance. Any advice?


    backstory: studying abroad in brazil, have camera to afraid to take pictures and get it stolen because i don't have insurace anymore.
     
  16. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    No idea other than business insurance.
     
  17. Tonster MBA

    Tonster MBA OT'r of the Year 2013 OT Supporter

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    :wtc: have a business liceanse if that helps. hehe

    I don't really know what I am doing when it comes to the business side of photography, as far as what I need and what I should get. I don't consider my self a pro, but I have made money doing it and would like to keep getting the moniez
     
  18. e.pie

    e.pie Active Member

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    I really want to try doing weddings on the side, but I don't know if I want to risk fucking something like that up :o
     
  19. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    find a local pro and offer to second shoot a few weddings. This will help you get your feet wet and see if it's something that you'd like to do. Shooting weddings is very demanding and exhausting work.
     
  20. Section8

    Section8 .

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    Thanks for the write up man. I've been thinking of taking Zach Arias' advice and posting ads for doing weddings for free, but just haven't gotten the balls to do it yet. I only have photos from the one wedding i've shot. Think it would be worth it for me to follow this route and still try to do a few free weddings to build my portfolio? Or should I just advertise cheap since I don't have much experience or a portfolio yet?
     
  21. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Advertise to shoot a wedding for $300-$400. Don't do it for free. You have to have an incentive to do a great job and if the couple is paying you there is more pressure on you. Be sure to let them know that you don't have much wedding experience but that you're committed to doing the best you can.
     
  22. wizeguy4

    wizeguy4 New Member

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    what montage pics did you use when you were advertising on CL but had not done any weddings yet?
     
  23. Section8

    Section8 .

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    Thanks :) I still need to polish up my website, but I think I'm going to try and start doing this soon :o
     
  24. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    I just posted up some pics I had shot with my daughter and her husband.
     

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