How to get Published
A Comprehensive Guide on How To Get Published and Why You May Be Hearing Crickets After Submitting
By Megan Maundrell, Host of The Forward Workshop
So, you want to get published. You want to see your work in print. You want those featured badges to sprinkle on your website. The back linking from popular blogs sharing your work to boost your SEO. The prestige of being able to call yourself a “Published Photographer” (or other vendor or model even!). Publishing is important to more people than just the photographer, but let’s not get carried away. Point is, it’s uber beneficial to get published, and you want in.
Let’s go through together, step by step, how to get published and how to choose magazines or blogs that will actually benefit your business.
** Before we get started, I just wanted to let you in on a little secret that really shouldn’t be a secret anymore. SO shout it loud and proud!
Many magazines take payment upon submission to either
Give you a “Better chance” at being published, quicker response time and/or feedback on potentially why your photo wasn’t chosen.
Guarantee you a page in the magazine (given that your photos are of quality, and in a lot of cases. no refunds are given if it is deemed not good enough or doesn’t fit the theme)
Guarantee you the cover spread of the magazine (same restrictions as above).
Those are just a few common “pay to play” options.
MY REASON FOR TELLING YOU
I want you to know that not everything is earned. There is a good chance that the photographer you looked up to, paid for the cover spot on a magazine. And that’s okay if that is how they choose to spend advertising money, but it doesn’t make them better than you or you worse than them.
And for you non photographers out there, when searching for a photographer, don’t let your decision weigh on where or whether or not they have been published for this exact reason.
Now, there are a ton of magazines that do not except or require payments to boost your chance at being published and here’s what I’ve found:
Many bridal magazines do not except or require payment
Many Kavyar.com submissions do take payment.
You can pay for programs such as twobrightlights.com to ‘streamline’ your submission process, but more on that later.
In closing, it seems as though if you find yourself submitting editorial portraiture, you will find that there is the payment option and therefore your images may not do as well if you choose to submit for free. I am by no means an expert on what niches charge, these are just my findings, and I wanted to open your eyes to this possibility!
So now that we have that out of the way, how can you get yourself published without having to pay someone else to use your image?
(Because that’s just ludicrous)
Create a session that showcases your strengths and speaks to your niche.
Create a styled shoot, working with other artists/vendors to capture a unique idea. While planning, take a look at the desired blog or magazine that you plan to submit to.
Does the mag match your niche? Are you submitting a documentary wedding to an editorial magazine? Because that wont fly sista.
What season will they be publishing next? Don’t create a summer shoot if its nearly fall, the magazine will want to publish “up and coming” not “last season”. If you do happen to do this but really want the shoot published, wait until next year!
What ideas or themes have they just published? You should stay away from those as they wont blog/print the same idea twice.
What geographical area do they usually use photos from? Are you submitting a snowy winter session to a California mag? Or are you in the states wanting to submit to Confetti Mag which is based out of Calgary?
Do they seem to give smaller artists a chance often? Manage your expectations, but still apply to larger blogs and magazines! You never know, although you don’t want to let yourself be crushed. Junebug weddings is a good example of a huge mag that would be amazing to be published in but to manage your expectations when submitting.
Do they only post, or favour “Real Weddings”? Just another thing to keep in mind when managing expectations.
When creating your styled shoot, I suggest taking a step away from Pinterest. You don’t want your idea to accidentally turn into your inspiration photos.
What I do to create unique styled shoots:
I have about 4 - 10 images from Pinterest to convey the vibe or feeling of the shoot.
I pick out key colours for the shoot
Then I let the vendors create whatever the heck their heart desires.
One thing that I love most about that last step is that it allow EVERYONE to be emotionally invested in the shoot. It’s not just my idea that other vendors are bringing to life; it’s a little piece from everyone, coming together to create some real, bad ass art! Usually, the vendors that I work with, tend to use the opportunity to play with a new technique, do something a little “out there” to show future clients how great it could look etc.
To recap: Create a unique shoot where everyone contributes something that speaks to their style, don’t draw too much inspiration from outside sources and be sure to do a little bit of research so you know what your odds are when it comes to publication time.
Prepare everyone for the wait
What I mean when I say that, is, be sure that all of the involved vendors and models know that generally, you have to wait until the magazine or blog gives you the go ahead before you post the images. This can be frustrating and cause conflict if it was not previously discussed, so be sure to prepare your team and be transparent with updates and timelines.
This wait period can be anywhere from a few weeks to several months to up to a year. It is comprised of the photographers editing time, submitting time (the act of submitting to multiple magazines is TEDIOUS, and then you have to wait a week to 30 business days to hear back from the magazine about if they will pick up your set or not), editing time on the blog or magazines behalf, printing time (if a magazine), and then the contractual exclusivity -meaning how long did you agree that the magazine or blog would be the exclusive provider of the images. This is different for each magazine and can be really lenient or extremely strict. Be sure to know the exclusivity policy and share it with your team members to avoid the possibility of your set being dropped due to a breech.
Hooray! You’ve successfully put together a shoot, and edited the images to your satisfaction. Next I like to share the images with the team, reinstating whatever exclusivity we may be held to. Then you submit!
Many magazines suggest that you submit to one and then wait to hear back before submitting to the next. I personally sit down and bang out each submission in one day and then wait to hear back. This way you save time and get the tedious part over with while you’re feeling really optimistic and exited about your images. If you wait to hear back and hear a no, then go onto the next submission, realistically, how many will you get through before you give up? I’d hope you’d still get through your list, however, we know that may not be the case.
Each magazine or blog will have a different method of submitting. Some want you to email them, others (the majority) have forms on their website to fill out.
This is where it gets tedious. Most of the submissions will be by forms. Each of these forms are laid out differently and require different information. But I can tell you now, that each will most definitely require the name, social media and website to each involved vendor, in the little individual boxes, and that’s where is gets slow.
I recommend having a tab open with each vendors social media and website so you can easily go and copy and paste each one into the appropriate box on the form.
If you are able to delegate out this responsibility, so that the weight of the job is shared, then go for it! Generally the photographer submits as legally, that is the only person who can grant the use of those copy written images. However, some submission forms allow you to check that you have the photographers permission and someone else may submit.
Some of my favourite magazines/blogs to submit to are:
What to do when you get more than one “YES”
Using the previously described method of going crazy with submitting all in one day, can cause this issue. It’s a great issue to have, but puts you in between a rock and a hard place. I recently had a situation like this when one of my shoots was accepted by Today’s Bride (in print), Rocky Mountain Bride (blog), Love Inc Mag (blog).
So what I did was
Talk to my team. Was there a specific one that they were all DYING to get into?
Do you have preference between print or blog?
Are you wanting to be viewed by your ideal clients or by other vendors?
In the end, we went with Today’s Bride, as we felt that more Canadian brides were likely to pick it up and read it vs more vendors following RMB or more Americans following Love inc. And we wanted to be in print.
What to do if you keep getting “NO”
Keep submitting or wait until a different season to submit. Maybe you missed the ideal season for your particular shoot.
Use the heck out of the gorgeous photos. Getting a “no” means you can use your photos that much faster! Post them to social media tagging all involved to get more post reach, use them on your website and business cards. Just go crazy, using the heck out of the images that you worked so hard to create!
Submit the images to win awards or to be featured on social media pages.
Think about what may have not fit, where you can improve next time and start dreaming up your next shoot.
All about Two Bright Lights
I had heard about Two Bright Lights through Jenna Kutcher YEARS ago and thought that it was an interesting concept, however, I wasn’t in the position to invest anything into my business so I forgot about it. Recently, a friend of mine mentioned that they now offer a free version, and I figured I would test it out for you guys!
The Free Version:
I hate it. Plain and simple. First things first, you see all of the possible magazines and what they are looking for, which is helpful! No guessing. Then you create an album to submit to the magazine. This album can only hold 150 images and needs to be imported (you can’t just drop your pixieset, pictime or dropbox link like you would normally for a submission). You add all of the vendors and a little bit about the wedding, choose any tags that would be associated with it and you’re done! Only to find that you can only submit to one blog. So the free version is super useless and a HUGE waste of time.
Would the paid version be better?
I obviously can’t say for sure, however I personally wouldn’t invest in it. It is $169.95 USD a year, which isn’t too expensive, however you’re entering territories of paying to submit, and for what in return? Someone to use your images for free. If you have a high volume of clients coming in from publications, then you may find that this would be worth it. However, I haven’t found a direct correlation between publications and inquiries- they my be a little step in the puzzle, but aren’t the lead factor.
How can you set up a styled shoot at a destination location while you’re travelling?
Use instagram and Facebook as your best friends! Post model calls with the location geotagged, post to facebook groups with residents in the area and you can also directly reach out to people. T do this, go to explore page on instagram and search the location, look at recently posted images and reach out to anyone who you think would be a good fit with a simple “Hey hey! I am visiting _____ and have this idea to do ____ with _____ vendors. I think you’d be an awesome fit to model! Would you be available ____day, you would receive ____. Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to check out my work here:_____”.
How many magazines or blogs do you submit to?
I usually do around 5. It totally depends on how soon your set gets picked up, what your patience level is for waiting to post the images and the amount of patience you have regarding continuing to submit.
Do you have to pay any of the vendors or to clean the dress after?
I’ve never paid vendors. I always make it clear that this is a mutually beneficial project (they receive images and that I plan on publishing), and I usually stick to “off season” when it comes to styled shoots- meaning that during the summer months when the vendors don’t have much time, yes, they may want compensation, or just simply not be able to do it. If the vendor does want payment, just ask someone else who see’s the value in the project!
As for dresses, generally, when you pick up a dress they will take your credit card info or a refundable deposit in case the dress is stolen or ruined. If the dress gets dirty, you will generally get charged a $100 cleaning fee. I haven’t ever been charged that fee. Just be honest with your model, explain that there is money on the line and you need the dress to be picked up when walking. Bring a drop cloth if its super mucky out and spot clean it when you get home! I find that warm water and a paper towel work wonders on the little bit of dirt that sticks to it.
How do you find a boutique that will lend out their dresses?
This can be tricky. I would suggest asking around so you have the ability to name drop one of their trusted photographers. I’ve had experiences at boutiques who have said that I’m too young, need to be in business for at least 7 years, need to have gone through an application process or they simply don’t lend out dresses unless they are the planners of the shoot. HOWEVER, these same boutiques have lent out dresses to others with no issue. It depends on what manager is on duty, and the store!
The best way to approach it is to email the boutique with your idea, your pinterest inspo, the involved vendors, name drop your friend who has worked with them before and ask when you could come in with the model to try on dresses.
The only boutique I work with in Victoria, is Shades of White Bridal, they are AH-MA-ZING when it comes to lending dresses!
The only one so far in Calgary that I have found is The Bridal Boutique.