No matter what your professional field, it's a super-competitive world we live in. This would be especially true for people in the arts, where everyone's hungry and having the talent simply isn't enough.
In a recent interview with pop megastar Justin Bieber, TV personality Oprah Winfrey noted that he was unlike stars before him as he is a true product of marketing. Some headlines that erupted after are proof of that very thing, having edited Winfrey's remarks to a more succinct, but somewhat misleading statement. To paraphrase the examples: "Oprah says Bieber unlike any star before him."
Sort of puts a whole different spin on things doesn't it?
I haven't caught the "Bieber Fever" and at risk of upsetting the 'Beliebers' I just happen to have an opinion, shared I know by many, many others, that there plenty of equally talented, adorable people out there who simply haven't managed to hitch a ride on the PR machine. It's not to say I don't think the boy has talent; it's simply that he would never have attained the phenomenal celebrity he has without the right people behind him and great marketing. Now there's the real talent.
It can be a full-time job on its own, but artists trying to break through need to know marketing. It should be a strong component of every post-secondary arts program in my opinion. Being the best, may, but probably won't be, all that's necessary to get you noticed, let alone rise to the ridiculous level of fame the Bieb has.
While the following links focus on how to market yourself as a photographer, they also generally offer sound advice for everyone trying to promote themselves and their work:
Professional Photographer 101 Marketing Tips
Digital Photography School Silent Marketing Tips for Photographer
Photography Bay 10 Internet Marketing Tips for Photographer
Digital Picture Zone Can Facebook Help You Become a Professional?