Zeke Kamm has been a photographer and entrepreneur for 20 years. In addition to shooting portraits and producing the Trade Secret Cards for Chase Jarvis and Strobist, he’s found time to launch the Nice Clip on Kickstarter. Read on as he talks about Kickstarter product launches and the single most important thing you can do to build an audience for your photography. Plus, we’re giving away lots of Nice Clips!
Getting started – Everyone has tangled cords to organize but you emphasize the Nice Clip’s lens cap application. Why is that?
The primary audience for the Nice Clip has always been photographers. As a long time photographer myself, I wanted to solve the problem of lost lens caps. It was a happy accident just months before we launched that I was playing with a prototype and realized that it made a fantastic cord catcher. I’m sure the cord-catching audience is much larger, but I wanted to stay focused on the photographic community that I’m so passionate about.
How did you like Kickstarter?
Launching on Kickstarter was a lot of fun. I started by doing lots of research. There are many articles available through Kickstarter that talk about how to run a successful campaign. I read them all… twice!
Probably the best advice is to watch as many Kickstarter project videos as you can. Not just the ones that are a hit. After a while you can tell pretty fast which are going to make their goal and which aren’t. Once you sign up for an account you submit a description of your idea. If it sounds like a fit, they approve it and you can start building your page. No one else can see your page until you launch it.
How’d you get the word out?
I had my marketing plan written down and finished about a week before I launched the page.
Just like in a photography business, marketing a Kickstarter project is essential for its success. It doesn’t matter if you have the best idea in the world if no one ever hears about it. For my marketing I emailed everyone I know and asked them to tell all their friends and so on. I also contacted high profile blogs with audiences that I thought would like The Nice Clip.
By the end of the first day I knew we would hit our goal. In the end we surpassed it by quite a bit!
Advice – What’s one simple thing a photographer can do to promote their work online?
I think the best thing a photographer can do to promote their work, on-line or off, is to decide who their audience is. No one can be everything to everyone. Pick who you want your audience to be or who your work best resonates with, then learn everything you can about that audience.
I’m not implying to change your work for them, but to change where you put your work to get their attention. I find a lot of photographers only “hang out” online with other photographers. That can be fun, but if you want to market yourself start spending time on the blogs and forums where your customers spend their time.
Growing as a professional photographer means developing a consistent, identifiable style – a brand identity. How have you established a brand or your projects?
Brand, or voice, is incredibly valuable. It’s a bit like that old dentist’s joke – “You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.” Well, you don’t have to brand all your projects, just the ones you want to be successful. Voice and brand is something I’ve been conscious of nearly my whole 20 year career. So when I started developing products (first the Strobist and Chase Jarvis Trade Secret Cards, and then The Nice Clip and now my new projects) I spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to translate that voice into a brand for products. It’s kind of hard to describe. A close friend of mine looked at what we’d done with the clip and said, “From the vintage camera packaging to the darkly comic promotional video, everything about The Nice Clip screams, ‘Zeke!’” That felt like a huge success as far as branding goes. If it screamed, “Larry!” it would not have been successful branding. I don’t even know anyone named Larry.
Nostalgia – Tell us about your first camera.
Well, I LOVE vintage cameras, so I have quite a few, but the first camera I ever owned was a Ricoh KR-5 Super. I was 16 and I don’t think it left my side. I still have it. It’s the only 1980′s camera on my shelf of 1920′s and older vintage beauties, but it’s also the only one (on that shelf at least) that I used day in and day out. It’s the camera I brought with me when I went to college (I was a photography major). I used it to shoot everything and it still works!
Tired of losing lens caps or wrangling with charging cords?
Win a Nice Clip of your own! Tell us what your first camera was in comments below – we’ll randomly select FIVE winners on May 14th and announce them here. UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been notified. Stay tuned; we’ll have more giveaways soon!