Providing value means continuously putting stuff out there. Blogging consistently, making videos, taking part in interactions on social media like answering questions, etc.
Gary Vaynerchuk talks a lot about providing massive value without asking anything in return, and he’s a big proponent of having a social media presence. E.g., in his latest book “Crushing It,” you can read a story about a dentist who massively grew her business by building a presence on Snapchat. All the kids in the area wanted to go to her.
Jared Polin of FroKnowsPhoto is another great example of a photographer who provides massive amounts of value through his Youtube channel. His efforts have paid off. According to Jared, he can nowadays generate seven figures a year.
Putting out content is marketing. It creates trust as people get to know you. Erik Kim, e.g., has also pointed out that most people who attend his workshops have been following his blog for 2-3 years before buying anything from him. The point is: if people don’t know who you are, they don’t trust you, and if they don’t trust you, they don’t want to spend their money on you (word of mouth and wedding photography, anyone?).
Another thing is that too many artists, photographers included, are worried about people stealing their work. They watermark their images and spend a lot of energy trying to protect their work. They are afraid of giving out their secrets and ideas.
As Tim O’Reilly puts it: “The problem for most artists isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.” Therefore, your problem is not people stealing your work. Your problem is that nobody knows you.
Free spreads quicker than something that costs money. If Facebook had charged you money every month when it started, it wouldn’t be so popular as it is now.