Expert Advice: Social Media for Photographers
Friday October 18th, 2013
This article was originally written by Karrisa Olsen, and published on October 18, 2013. It has been updated to reflect changes in social media.
Many working photographers with busy schedules question the value of dedicating time dabbling in the world of blogging and social media.
It’s important to recognize that clients and viewers will most likely not make their way to your website on a daily basis, but it is almost guaranteed that they’ll be on sites like Facebook and Twitter for their own personal use. Social media is the best way to make your presence known without actually bothering anyone at all. And, best of all, it’s free.
When creating your own social media plan, ask yourself WHY you are using social media, WHO you are trying to reach, and HOW you are going to reach them. Your general goal should be to brand yourself, find your voice behind that brand, and market both of these to potential clients. Breaking down the different uses for each relevant social media site will help prioritize which you should spend the most time on.
With more than 1 billion users, Facebook is the 2nd most visited site in the world. By creating a business page for your photography, you’re able to self-promote with updates linking to recent work, publications, awards and successes. Some photographers make the mistake of using their personal Facebook profiles for their business. A separate, public page operated by your account for your business will allow anyone to “like” and begin to follow your posts, without them having to friend request you first. Potential client pages — such as those representing magazines, agencies and photo companies — will be able to view your information in full.
While the purpose of using Facebook is to market yourself, another part of the strategy is to talk about other things aside from just you. Engaging your audience is the best way to expand it. Ask questions, seek opinions on a topic, share interesting links that others will feel inclined to pass around–all of these actions will involve your audience. But remember, you won’t keep their attention without embracing your personality. Find your voice, and don’t hesitate to post fun, personal (but not too personal) things in between your business content. Reply to comments in a timely manner to maintain a dialogue.
140 characters is all you have to be interesting. Despite the posting limit, Twitter is a great way to build relationships. It’s very interactive in the way that you can retweet what others are saying and reply to tweets. You will gain more followers simply by making your posts intriguing enough that followers will want to retweet it. With that said, Twitter can be a mixture of promotion of your work and personal chatter. Once again, ask questions and seek opinions–make others want to communicate with you. Getting noticed by potential clients on Twitter can lead them to your website which can ideally lead you to a job. The limited space available allows for digestible communication.
Here’s a simple iPhone photography tip that a surprising amount of people never consider. Wipe your lens clean before you shoot. :)
— Jeremy Cowart (@jeremycowart) November 22, 2014
Although Instagram has been widely debated among professional photographers, there’s no denying its power in the digital age. It’s quick, easy and puts the focus strictly on photos. We’re in an industry full of people who love and appreciate art in the form of imagery, and despite what some may think, it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between a professional photographer on Instagram and someone who uses it for pictures of cats, selfies or their every day lunch. It’s a constantly growing tool for photographers to demonstrate talent, so use it!
A few things to remember: use relevant hashtags (such as #portraiture #photography #location, etc.), and geotag locations if you’re out and about. Show BTS shots and engage with your audience. Create a professional bio that tells who you are and what you do. Link to your website. Include a photo of yourself. Get personal. Take what you do well, and capitalize on that. Also, remember to caption your photos; they can be short, long or in between, as long as there’s a little something to go along with the photo. For example, sports, adventure and lifestyle photographer Justin Bastien (shown below), recently posted a photo of Mount Whitney on his account with the following caption:
Mount Whitney, as seen from Iceberg Lake, is the tallest peak in the contiguous United Sates at 14,505′. Mount Whitney was first climbed by a group of fisherman in 1873. I love the thought of John Muir back in the day climbing the Mountaineers Route all alone for the first time. What an experience that man had exploring the beautiful, untouched High Sierras.
It got hundreds of likes, as well as people commenting with their own personal experiences about Mount Whitney. Engage your audience and get creative! It’s also never a bad idea to host a contest/giveaway on your page once once you build a solid following. Have followers like/comment for the chance to win a free print!
Known as the more “grown-up” version of Faceboook, LinkedIn’s main purpose is to connect professionals and create business. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, this isn’t a platform suited for personal content. This is an appropriate place to talk yourself up and not feel vain while doing so. Millions of companies around the world have LinkedIn profiles and use it to hire employees and clients. The “Jobs” section allows you to sift through opportunities that are usually exclusive to LinkedIn users.
Your LinkedIn profile is essentially an online résumé, and you’re going to want it filled with positivity. This is where endorsements and recommendations come into play. If you’re able to get other professionals to write positive things about you and support your skills, it’s likely that clients will notice. However, the tricky part about LinkedIn is that as long as you’re not paying for full access, you can only connect with and send messages to people that are within your network. The more people you’re connected with, the more access you’ll have to the industry professionals you want to reach. It’s a great outlet to find someone such as a photo editor or art director that could otherwise be hard to find. Be aware of your browsing, though — users are notified about who has viewed their profile!
You may be wondering, “If I’m spending all of this time marketing myself on social media, what’s the purpose of blogging?” Well, blogs serve the great purpose of creating links you can promote on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s a great way to share your personal work, behind-the-scenes details of shoots, or tricks of the trade. The content of your blog is basically everything that doesn’t fit into your portfolio or on your main website. If you occasionally shoot black and white landscapes on your own time but get hired and commissioned to shoot high production ad campaigns, you may want to keep your black and white landscapes on your blog, and keep the work you’re looking to get hired for on your website. Maybe someone that wants to shoot weddings occasionally, but not consistently, would have a blog specifically for their wedding photography to share with potential clients. That way, it’s separate from the primary portfolio.
Blogging isn’t something you need to do on a daily basis, but the page should be refreshed every few days; even if it’s an older photo paired with a description or a new snapshot you took on your phone. Consistency is key, and when clients see that you’re keeping up with your blog, they’ll know you mean business. WM photographers Zack Arias and Joe McNally are great examples of photographers who know how to blog. Zack Arias offers plenty of expert advice, including Q&A sessions. Joe McNally presents ideas, opinions and technical tips and tricks.
Print portfolios, emailers and print mailers are all great forms of promotion, and social media is a free way to augment that effort. The only cost is some time and energy, and ideally that investment will end up paying you.
Photographers, take advantage of the internet. It’s here to stay, and we hope you are, too.