Whether you are a full-time photographer, or doing photography on the side, your mind is constantly trying to come up with ways to increase your business. Next to word-of-mouth, the internet can be one of your most powerful resources for marketing. With so many social-networking sites available to you, creating an internet presence for your business can be a lot easier than you might think.
Here are a few websites that will help you get your name out there. Whether you utilize them all, or just one or two, is completely up to you, so consider each of them based on your brand, and the clientele you would like to attract. Also, keep in mind that not everyone is on each social media site, so while it may be good to start out with just one of these sites to test the waters, the more of them you are on, the more people you will reach.
One of the great features of Facebook is that you can create a page that is strictly for your business, while keeping your personal Facebook page separate. Your business page on Facebook lets you give a brief description of your services, upload photos, and post status updates to let people know about upcoming specials or new work. Another great feature is that people have the ability to comment on and “Like” the things that you post. The reason that this works in your best interest is that when people interact on your business page, it will most likely show up in their Recent Activity, so that all of their friends will see the activity occurring on your business page, regardless of whether or not they are following you. That way, people who may not have otherwise seen your page will be introduced to your work.
Flickr gives you a place to meet other photographers, and networking with photographers can be vital to your business. There are many local Flickr groups that meet once or twice a year and showcase their work in galleries. If you sell fine art prints, this is a great way of showcasing your work. If you are more into portrait photography, getting to know other portrait photographers can be extremely beneficial because not only will you learn from them, but if, for example, they live in another state, they may have a friend who lives in your state and wants a photo shoot, so they can recommend you to their friend! Also, Flickr has SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that feeds into search engines like Google and Yahoo. If you post a photo to Flickr and tag it with keywords that are relevant to the photo and your business, those photos will show in the image results on search engines. For me, tagging my photos appropriately has lead to everything from client shoots, to book covers, simply because someone was doing an image search and came across my photo. SEO is definitely a highlight of Flickr!
3. Personal Blogs
A blog focusing on all of the different aspects of your photography is a wonderful way of posting information that is relevant to your business. Whether your blog is part of your website, or a completely separate page, it will give you the chance to have a voice, talk about your process, and showcase what is unique about your services. Just like Flickr, blogs tend to be powered by SEO, so discussing the appropriate topics and using relevant keywords will help boost you to the first page of Google! And, we all know that being on the first page of search results tremendously boosts your chances of increasing your business.
Much like Flickr, Twitter gives you the opportunity to follow people who share your interest in photography. Since there is a character limit for each of your Tweets, you have the opportunity to keep your updates to-the-point. Whether you are advertising photo specials, or discounted prints, Twitter is a great way to get your message out to people who are in a hurry and not inclined to read a blog post.
5. Google +
There is a new social-networking site, powered by Google, that is still in its development stages. For now, Google has set a limited number of users, but it is a perfect social-networking site for photographers because of their invention of “Circles” – an application that allows you to create circles of certain people, and select what information you share with them. This helps prevent a lot of the clutter that is sometimes prevalent on Facebook or Flickr, and you can share information with specific groups of people. Images look wonderful on Google+, thanks to the black lightbox.
As you delve into the realm of utilizing social media to increase your business, keep in mind that, for it to work in your favor, you have to be diligent, and you also need to interact with people. If you only post every two months, chances are that you will not get a lot of attention through these sites. People have a short attention span, and if you do not engage them regularly, there is a chance they will lose interest. You may want to take note of photographers who use social media – examine how they word their posts, what sort of content they are displaying, and how they interact with people who comment on their posts. You can learn a lot just by observing, and then find a way to put your own unique spin on how you utilize social media.
Anna Gay is a portrait photographer and photography tutor based just outside of Atlanta, GA. She is also the author of the dPS ebook The Art of Self-Portraiture. You can follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnaGPhotog