Book Review: Tell the World You Don’t Suck

Tell the World You Don’t Suck: Modern Marketing for Commercial Photographers by Leslie Burns Dell’Acqua

I’m a big fan of marketing and advertising my business. I really try hard to put my work, my business and my name out there as much as possible. With that said, sometimes I get stuck. Getting stuck in your marketing is no different from getting stuck creatively. It happens to all of us and learning how to break out of that rut and into more productive areas is important for any business owner.  It’s at times like these that books like this one come in very handy indeed.  Sometimes we need a creative kick in the pants, sometimes the foot is more business oriented.This book, in particular, seems to be a solidification of many of the ideas and themes that the author has been kicking around and preaching to those of us who would listen for some time. The author has been a consultant to photographers for many years. Anyone who reads blogs, forums or attends industry events has probably come across her name before. Admittedly, many of the themes she addresses here are also addressed on her blog and in writings on her website. Here in the book, they are addressed in much more depth.

Like any good how to, this book starts wide and then gets into specifics. The first few chapters I find especially helpful. They are concerned with big picture items like being true to your creativity and developing a solid marketing foundation (she calls it the Vision Marketing Statement.) The rest of the book addresses specific techniques and tools like postcards, emails, and dreaded cold-calls.   Think of the first chapters as strategic and the later chapters as tactical. While it’s written with commercial photographers specifically in mind many of the lessons and pieces of advice work well for the retail photography world as well as other creative fields.

One of the first pieces of advice given in the business field is to make sure to develop a unique professional personality. Amongst photographers we would usually say to develop a unique personal style and vision. The author certainly toes the line on this front–and with good reason. It’s refreshing to note that she has also followed that advice as a writer. As you read the book you can’t help but get a sense of her personal writing style. Her style is light and at times a bit quirky. Perfectly written for its audience. I mean we’re photographers, we’re all a bit strange and her writing speaks to that very well.

Overall I’d call this book a welcome addition to the business end of your bookshelf. There are times when we need visual inspiration and times when we need business inspiration. This is one to reach for when you need the latter. It’s mix of contemporary tactics (email, postcards, Twitter, etc.) and timeless strategies (VMS and creativity) that are beneficial now and in the future. She ends the book with a list of her 10 photographers commandments with the 10th being my favorite: “It’s art–not a tumor.”   Which I think is a perfect ending statement. As tough as this business is, it’s still a great way to make a living.

Read excerpts and reviews from Amazon: Tell the World You Don’t Suck: Modern Marketing for Commercial Photographers

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