Why I started the Photography Workshops Abroad Directory

by Ian Middleton​

I’ve been running photography workshops for quite a few years now, and the one common problem was always the cost of advertising. Now I know that in any business you have to pay the costs of promoting your business. However, as someone who is not a big business running workshops throughout the year, budgets for advertising must be kept to a fair minimum. I only run a few workshops per year, and so forking out large sums in advertising really isn’t economically viable. Moreover, a meagre budget needs to be spent wisely.

Choosing the best place to insert paid advertisements is never easy at the best of times. There are other directories with a wide reach that will offer you a placement for a fee. I once paid a large fee for a placement in a photography holidays and courses guidebook that went out with two very prominent photography magazines, but got nothing from it. Soon I realised that of course in these places I was up against thousands of others offering the same. But more importantly, the bigger companies or businesses that ran numerous workshops all year round could afford to pay for much bigger placements than my little budget one.

I found a few online directories where I could list my workshops for free, but they were all very basic text listings. Then I found another directory which started out cheap, but not long after the prices went up. It was all becoming quite frustrating.

Workshop particpants at Vintgar gorge near Bled, Slovenia.
Workshop particpants at Vintgar gorge near Bled, Slovenia.

Enter the coronavirus

The Covid19 pandemic changed a lot of things. With the subsequent worldwide lockdown, grounding of all flights and cessation of worldwide travel, this has devastated the tourism and travel industry. Suddenly many were in the same boat, and that boat was full of individuals, small businesses and large corporations. Whether big or small it didn’t matter, all were affected. Every single photography workshop or tour had to be cancelled. It came right at the peak of the spring season.

A lot of money was lost. However, situations such as this bring out the best and worst in people. While the greedy were taking advantage of the desperate need for food and face masks and hiking prices right when people were losing their jobs and their livelihood, I watched as a spirit of camaraderie broke out among the photography community.

Photographers started offering discounts on their online courses, and also many were helping to promote each other via places like YouTube. For my part, I slashed my print sales by offering a 50% discount.

One photographer I know, wildlife photographer Paul Miguel, began promoting other photographers’ YouTube channel via his Facebook page. It was truly inspiring to see how everyone was standing up and saying, let’s help each other out. Paul’s contribution inspired me to write a blog that did the same.

The directory idea was born

I’d owned the domain name photographyworkshopsabroad.com for years. Originally I bought it for my own workshops, but eventually moved it all to my own website. For many years it just lingered there idly. When the lockdown began, I got some work with a regular client in Ireland who asked me to help him manage and edit his own business directory website, Thatchfinder.com

The directory software he has is superb. It allows users to search via a map or keywords. All listings could be tailored and looked great. Of course you could set listing levels and charge for some.

A level playing field for all photography workshops

With this software and my own domain name, I realised that I could easily create a photography workshops directory like this, and not only make it entirely free but also it would create a level playing field for all who listed on it. I decided I wouldn’t charge at all, and it wouldn’t matter who you were or how big you were, you would get the same listing choice as everyone else.

This will not be a basic text listing though, it is a fully comprehensive listing with up to five photos, a video option and detailed descriptions.

So I got myself a copy of the software and got to work. Soon the Photography Workshops Abroad Directory was born.

Workshop participants photographing beautiful light and clouds scattering over Bohinj Lake,Triglav National Park, Slovenia.
Workshop participants photographing beautiful light and clouds scattering over Bohinj Lake,Triglav National Park, Slovenia.

Best things in life are free

Of course many said, but how will you make money from it? I pondered this for a while. One of the problems I had is that I don’t want to have to end up charging for it in the future. I want to keep it free. Then I realised that all the most popular websites are free, and always have been: Google, Facebook, YouTube etc. How do they make money? Advertising! I figured by making it totally free to photographers, I would hopefully attract a lot of photographers to list their workshops, which in turn will hopefully attract a lot of advertising revenue and sponsorship from photography equipment suppliers or other related photography services. There will also be other ways to monetize it as the site grows.  

Submit your photography workshops

So, calling all photographers, the pandemic will soon come to an end. While it may take time to get travelling again, it will happen sooner than we think. So get ahead of the game and submit all of your workshops for free. There is no limit to how many you can list.

Book a workshop anywhere in the world

Now is the perfect time to start planning your next photography workshop, tour or course anywhere in the world. Check out the search for a workshop link and browse the map for a location around the world that you have always wanted to visit, and see if there is a workshop there. The sky is the limit.

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Lake District in northern England.
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