How to Gain a Following for Your Photography Online
Building an online presence for your photography business is easier than ever these days with do-it-yourself interfaces like SmugMug, Zenfolio, 500px, and more, combined with social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Combine that with web management software like Wordpress to create and manage your website and blog and you have a slew of tools to create and maintain a solid online presence for your business.
If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business along with a website, you need to get that setup immediately. While all of this is necessary to compete in modern business, the real value is in using these tools to gain a following beyond basic traffic.
See more: How to Create a Profitable Website
Building a quality following requires networking at jobs, creating a positive atmosphere, and careful investment of time and a little bit of money online.
Lets assume you already have a website and already use major social media pages...
So where do you go from there? How do you gain this sort of following?
We are talking about genuinely interested visitors beyond basic website hits, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, etc... but rather people who subscribe to your RSS feed, watch for your posts on different forums and check your latest activities because you are a leader in your field and because they want to see what you are up to.
- Website with blog
- Social profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, LinkedIn
- Industry specific websites: forums, blogs, professional profiles
- Get involved! Network!
- Post photos in demand: live events, current projects as they are in progress
- Engage your social media fans, keep them involved
- Be original and consistently post quality work
Offline & Online Networking
If you work within a niche or multiple niche markets, interact with your customers and network and find industry websites to help grow your business within that circle. Those websites are a great way for people to refer you to others in the same industry while building your authority within that industry, not to mention its just another way for people to find you as well as gaining links back to your website and social profiles for SEO benefits.
For example, I do a lot of work in the beauty and cosmetology industry both on the educational side and commercial salon side of the industry and when I’m working shooting these events I network with vendors at their expos, introduce myself to school owners and other attendees. I have profiles on 5 websites specifically for beauty industries, a lot of which provide areas for reviews, online resumes, photo uploads, hashtags, and more. On one of the major websites that pushes social activity I gained more than 5,800 followers in less than 6 months.
More importantly, I am on a first name basis with the owners of these websites and a lot of their key people and interact with them online and trade content. In a lot of cases I’m generous up front and offer favors to help them out and it usually pays off long term.
When I finish at an event I take all of the business cards I collect and like each business page on Facebook, comment on their blog posts, maybe even email them a nice photo from the event. This gets people talking about you and creating positive memories.
Whether its online or in-person, be real, be positive, create good memories together with your clients and they will tell their friends who will want to get to know you and your work.
Develop a personal style to the photos you post so that when people see your work, it looks like your work and not something generic. This is one area I have always struggled with because I shoot around my client’s needs, which might not always reflect my own personal style. I shoot so many different subjects that sometimes there is a disconnect because I have followers from multiple industries. I think most photographers struggle with this for the same reasons. This makes it difficult to connect with everyone in your fan base. The best way I have found is to cater towards your biggest niche but post highlights from other projects as well, as long as the image quality is top notch for everything you post. Make sure there is something outstanding and unique about anything you post.
SEO - Hit Multiple Angles
Lets be honest, it's extremely hard to get traffic for a photography website using generic keywords without paid advertising. There are more photographers now than ever before, a lot of which have very strong online marketing efforts. Getting your site ranked in Google and your blog posts more visible can be very challenging, especially considering regional search parameters. Using targeted blog posts helps establish your voice and authority on specific subjects and you can use that to help gain organic traffic for different keywords than the rest of your website. It really depends how your market niche works, so do some research and observe how people work within your field.
Other than the beauty industry I also do a lot work in the aftermarket automotive world. Most of the brand interaction in that industry happens through forums and Facebook pages so I focus most of my efforts sharing project photos on Facebook pages, tagging brands and shops that are involved, almost like cooperative marketing…sharing content and combining fan base of multiple pages to get more visibility. I will usually feature a handful of photos in my blog entry to be able to link back in the comments for people to see more and get in touch with me or see other projects.
Think about what you do that’s unique and how can you share that with the world.
You really never know where your next biggest client will come from.