As passionate fans of photography, most of us get into this field to pursue our passion for art. Very soon, the lure of making money and creating a business out of what we love to do takes over, and we start planning our companies around our passion.
But once we begin to hit roadblocks along the way, we realize the adage ‘Build it, and they will come does not always work. Focusing on social media is a great way to build an audience and generate clients for your business.
Good pictures do not always mean paying clients right off the gate. Many times it takes thousands of great photos, Social Media networking, interacting, and investing in building a community to get a small trickle of clients that may come your way.
But don’t lose hope. If done right, this approach to building a photography business will slowly work its way to providing a steady stream of clients. Social media is a great way to build an online presence and slowly work towards those paying jobs.
Not only does it provide you exposure to your target audience, but it also helps you connect with industry peers and grow your business with new opportunities as people start getting exposure to your work.
Social media is a fun way for personal use. But, when it comes to promoting yourself, your portfolio, or your photography work through online social networks, the prospect can be downright scary.
The bundle of questions then pop up – What social media platforms should be used? How to write a good post? Whether it’s working or not? The prospect of using social media like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to market a photography business brings with it a barrage of challenges.
Getting started with social media marketing isn’t an easy overnight process—it involves a bit of learning to manage social platforms professionally and, more importantly, posting the required quality of content.
Social media promotion backed by professional image clipping and photoshop services is an excellent tool for photographers to have a web presence by sharing work, creating more leads, and reaching out to potential clients.
What Social Platforms to Use for Maximum Reach?
Before you even get started on social media marketing, you’ll need to pick a platform. While new ones pop up and old ones die out all the time, photographers’ most extensive options are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Don’t be tempted to open an account on all three platforms right away, though. It’s better to excel on one social media platform than fall flat on your face with multiple platforms.
Successful social media marketing requires a time commitment. Don’t open three accounts, then fail to gain followers because you don’t have the time, or worse, spend all your time on social media marketing with none left to take pictures.
To start with, pick one platform—you can add another later on when your initial account requires less time. Here are a few things to consider with each option:
- Facebook– This is a popular option because there are so many users. It’s also easy to upload many different types of posts, including images. It’s also easy to share pictures, so you’ll get more exposure. Facebook can be challenging to build followers, but not all of your followers see every post. If few people like the post, very few other users will see it.
- Twitter – This is based on 140-character posts and isn’t as image-oriented as other outlets. However, you can still post images and quick updates. Unlike Facebook, bars aren’t displayed based on how many likes they get, but just chronologically. That means if you post often, your followers will see your posts frequently.
- LinkedIn – This is one of the most underutilized social networks for photographers. It’s loaded with highly engaged individuals. Keep in mind that LinkedIn also has company pages, just like Facebook. Be sure to take advantage of them. A well-optimized LinkedIn profile can showcase photography skills and enhance your digital marketing strategy.
- Pinterest – This is built on images—essentially, it’s a platform for sharing and saving inspirational photos. That makes it great for photographers. However, reaching out to the right audience—like local clients looking for a portrait photographer, for example—is challenging. Pinterest is likely a better option for promoting photography websites and blogs than a local business.
- Instagram – This is a platform designed just for sharing images. It’s a fun way for photographers to share their ideas and build up a following. The problem is that it is designed more for mobile photography. You can’t upload an image from your computer, and you have to use an app. That’s a big obstacle for photographers that like to edit their image in Photoshop first or that don’t have a wi-fi equipped camera to send pictures right to their smartphone.
Which one is the best? That depends on the type of work you do. Facebook is excellent for portrait and event photographers. Pinterest is good for getting more visits to a photography blog. Weigh the options, and choose a platform that allows you to reach out to your target client.
How to Plan and Arrange for Social Media Photography
Start by creating a photography social media calendar that will map out all of the content to be posted. This is a tool that will outline and visualize the distribution of social media content across all platforms.
Most people use tools to keep track of this, but it’s also possible to just use a standard planner. What’s essential is that posts are planned and scheduled in advance.
The next step in this social media strategy is to set up an organized content library where content for posts can easily be obtained. Create a separate folder for images and save them under unique file names. Link those file names to the content calendar so that posting only takes a moment.
Finally, it’s essential to mix and match posts to offer various messages to a social media audience. There are four types of posts – call to action, engagement, showcase, and relatable. Split these up throughout the social media calendar.
Here are the tips for making the most out of social media primarily targeted towards beginning photographers
Understand Social Media Platforms
Let’s be honest. There are what seems like hundreds of social media platforms out there, and new ones sprout up every day. You have to understand that a social media platform appropriate for me might not be the right one for you.
Different photography genres have other characteristics, and even photographers in the same genre gravitated towards different platforms based on their personalities.
The best place to start is understanding where photographers in your industry live online and how they are utilizing those platforms.
Pick the Ones That are Right for You, not Others.
To make an educated and informed decision about where you want to spend your time online, it is essential to understand the following things.
Know Your Brand
Who are you as a photographer, and what does your brand stand for? Are you an adventure-loving outdoor photographer? Or do you love architecture and street photography?
Perhaps you are a fashion photographer? Based on what type of photography you want to specialize in and what brand message you want to convey, pick social media channels that make sense.
My wedding and lifestyle portrait brand is light, bright, fun, and organic imagery. I rarely deviate from that style because it reflects who I am as a person and a photographer. My preferred social media channels are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Know Your Ideal Client
This one is crucial to understand, not just for social media but also for effectively building your photography business.
If you are a corporate photographer that wants to specialize in headshots and corporate events, LinkedIn and other professional channels might be the best place to invest your time and effort.
However, if you are a wedding and lifestyle portrait photographer, LinkedIn might not be the best place to be.
Instead, sites like Instagram and/or Snapchat might be a better place for you to showcase your talents and make connections because that is where your ideal clients are spending their time online. My clients come from different channels, as well as referrals from past clients.
Know Your Audience
My wedding photography business audience is brides-to-be, wedding planners and/or family members who are helping future brides plan their wedding.
My audience for my lifestyle portrait photography business is families who want family photos. In contrast, my audience for editorial photography is brand managers or business owners who wish to visual imagery that accurately reflects their brand.
Knowing who each of my potential customers is and communicating directly to their needs via my imagery will help me book my ideal client and grow my business.
Blog vs. Website
This is the million-dollar question and something you’d question and struggle with early on in your business, too. Yes, technically, a blog is also a website!
Many companies do exceptionally well with one or the other. There is no right or wrong approach here, no matter what you decide.
A website showcases your work – your photographs – whereas a blog is where you get to showcase your personality – writing style, passion projects and everyday photography life. Don’t feel like once you pick a platform, you have to stick to it.
If you decide to start a blog, you can use a blogging platform to create a blog in less than 1 minute. Most importantly, blogging on an existing platform allows you to instantly expose your work to a much larger audience.
Create a Plan
Just like your business, your social media should also have a plan of action. Get organized with what platforms you want to target (it is okay to pick just one, to begin with).
Create a roadmap for your posting schedule – are you going to post once a week? Are you going to post one picture a day? Do you have a theme for each post? – no matter what you choose, make sure it is manageable and not overwhelming.
It is better to start slow and pick up the pace over time. Get organized with your content. Use the imagery that you have to create the content for your website and/or blog.
There are also many automation tools out there to help you manage your time. Use them to your advantage.
For example, if you have a Facebook Business page, you can schedule your content ahead of time, so you are not spending time each day to post to your business page. If you have an Instagram account, you can use apps like Later to schedule your content, similar to Facebook.
If you have your blog hosted on a platform like PhotoBlog, you can also create blog posts and prepare them ahead of time to post on a certain day at a certain time.
Engage With Your Audience
Remember that social media is all about being social with your media! Engage with your audience. Don’t just post something on your social media and disappear until the next time you post online.
Over time you will find that people who follow you and your work want to engage with you. They want to feel like they know you and interact with you, ask questions and know a little bit about you. Make it easy for them to do so by answering their questions and engaging with them.
You can also form some amazing industry connections via social media. I have connected with florists, invitation designers and planners on my social media and have collaborated with them on some of my most interesting creative projects. Be visually engaging and heartfully genuine.
If you have a blog hosted via a platform like Photoblog.com, you gain the advantage of having a built-in audience.
So instead of just talking to yourself via a lonely blog and wondering if anyone out there is reading and listening to your content, you can instantly gain an audience. But remember, it is a two-way street; put yourself out there and make meaningful connections.
Create Quality Content
Photography is a visual art form. To be true to that art form, it is very important to understand all the technical elements that create an impactful image.
When you post your work on social media, make sure you pay attention to all the elements that go into making a great image. Be aware of the lighting, composition as well as editing you do to your images. It is very tempting to take a quick mobile phone image, slap on a filter or two and post it online to represent your work and your brand.
But I challenge you to take a step back and ask yourself if the image you are posting is a true representation of your work before you post any image.
Content is not just about your photography. A key secret to success is your captions and text that goes along with your images. Use captions to create a personal story that your audience can relate to.
Have Fun With Social Media
If you have made it this far down the article and are still intrigued with social media and how you can use it for your photography, I applaud you! One of the most important aspects of social media is to engage and have fun. If you are just starting in photography, don’t be intimidated by it.
Instead, use it to inspire you creatively and connect with fellow artists. Above all else, be genuine in your thirst for creative growth, inject your personality into your work, and not worry about the numbers. I end with one of my absolute favourite photography quotes in life and work ‘Be yourself because everyone else is already taken!’.
If you want to connect with me further about photography, social media or life in general, please reach out via my social media channels. Drop a line or two and start a genuine conversation!
How to Customize Images to Post on Social Media
Social media image editing is an essential step to viral marketing on social media. In photography, social media platforms play by different rules, so the same image might need to be slightly different to meet the rules set by each platform. Here are some step-by-step social media tips to give your social media presence the highest chance of success.
Framing & Composition
If you have taken any photography class or even picked up a Photography for Dummies book in the last 20 years, you’ll be familiar with the rule of thirds. You see, most 35MM images – whether film or digital – are rectangles. A photo where the subject is in the centre of the image isn’t very interesting to look at and often invokes the “amateur” tag. The rule of thirds encourages you to divide the photograph in your mind into thirds and position the subject either in the left or right third of the image. It’s generally accepted as good composition.
Social media channels generally benefit from this rule, too, to some degree. Consider the format of the cover image in the Facebook Timeline. It’s a long, rectangular space and lends itself to compositions that feel “widescreen” in nature. If you’re shooting a series of images that you hope you use as cover photos on Facebook, you will want to keep this in mind. But don’t stop there. The cover image on Facebook is only one format and is a special bit of landscape.
The profile picture you maintain on social channels – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare and many others – are square, and that same rule of thirds simply won’t work. Many companies use some version of their logo as a profile image, and that’s entirely acceptable. However, if you are shooting a series of photos that you hope to use for profile image purposes – whether to support a campaign or highlight a product – frame it straight in the centre of the photo and give it a lot of exposure on the photo. Remember, you’re going to be cropping this image down to a square, so a photo that’s longer than it is tall will ultimately mean your fans will see less of the subject in the tiny thumbnail.
Next to composition, lighting is the single most important factor in a great shot that will help your brand resonate on your social channels. Now, there are brands in the world for which a dark, foreboding style is perfectly acceptable.
The trick to great lighting isn’t so much where you shoot; you’re not always going to have a bright sunny day or the warm glow of a fire. The trick is in how much light you capture in the image, and that, in part, can be achieved through white balance and ISO settings. Even the most basic point-and-shoot cameras now have these features. You can go to town in these settings, and many new photographers get easily confused. Let me simplify: higher ISO settings allow you to shoot more quickly and capture more wonderful light. So if you’re indoors and it’s dark, but you still want a brightly lit shot, try the highest setting (it may be up to ISO 3200). Settings often start at 50 and go up to 1600 or 3200.
The other key is to match the white balance setting to your shooting environment. If it’s indoors in fluorescent lights, choose that setting. Most cameras have an “auto” setting for white balance, which may not always get it right, so if the shot just doesn’t look right to you, keep experimenting. You may even find that the right high ISO setting and white balance means you can avoid using the flash.
Background & Style
Your choice of where photos are taken is as important as the composition and the lighting. If you work for a large brand organization, there’s a good chance that you have some sort of brand toolkit or style guide available. Pull that out and study it to get a sense of your organization’s sense of style and put that insight to use when you’re shooting candids and shots for your social channels. You may find that you can use your booth at a trade show as a nice background for portraits of your customers or the front of a retail store with some sort of branding in the background as a good outdoor setting. Don’t just position someone and take their photo. That sense of purpose and consistency will help your social content feel consistent and integrated with your brand.
This is a great, underutilized trick. Camera lenses of all kinds – even on smartphones – are usually made of some sort of domed or curved glass. Changing the camera’s orientation to the subject can alter the style of the shot and bring some creative elements to your photos. Try shooting from below or above your subject. Or, try moving to the side and shooting them at an angle versus straight on. Not only will the subject appear more interesting, but the background also will. Try to think of a photograph as a 3D object. This will help freshen up the content you post on your social channels and give it some life.
This is an important tip that is often overlooked. Facebook has made a lot of improvements to its photo-hosting platform. Most recently, they’ve enabled full-screen photo viewing at very high resolutions meaning those scrappy little smartphone shots – the ones you took with a dirty lens – are going to look blurry and grainy on your fan’s screen. That may change, of course, with their purchase of Instagram. For now, if you’re taking photos for a brand, invest in a higher resolution point-and-shoot camera so that your great shots stay looking great on Facebook and elsewhere on the social web.
Social Media for Photographers Is a Great Tool When Done Right
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be great ways to market a photography business and find new leads. However, rather than updating core photographs, social media platforms today have an informal culture of publishing look-good posts.