Social Media is now endemic to our culture and used effectively can be a powerful tool to drive business. However, with the sheer numbers of avenues to connect figuring out the best way to allocate your time can be daunting.
Currently 32% of the population worldwide uses the internet which translates to 2.5 billion individuals. In the United States 82% of the population uses the internet.
Some of the questions I receive from photographers are:
Below is a biased opinion on the merits and disadvantages of some of the most popular social media networks, as well as a few tips for increasing your SEO:
In order to optimize the benefits of Twitter you will need to use hashtags. Hashtages are used to mark keyowords or topics in a Tweet. It was created by Twitter. Hastags ared used are a way to categorize messages in a “noisy” enviorment.
You can use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in your Tweets in order for them to show up easily in a Twitter search. Use relevant hastags that would also be used by others. Obscure hastags will not generate traffic.
Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all the other tweets marked with that keyword. Hashtags can be placed anywhere in your tweet, beginning, middle or end. Popular hastagged words are considered “trending”.
Using a hastag on a public account enables anyone who does a search with your hastag to be able to find your tweet.
Do not over hastag a tweet..#toomuch #spam #photography. Also do not spam with hastags. Recommended best practice is to use a maximum of two hashtags per tweet. You can also utilize @ to give mention to your self or others, @johnberthot. Etc…
One of the goals of having a Twitter account is to gain followers. One of the best ways of doing this is following other people, with the hope that they will in turn follow you. Of course celebrities and twitter users with thousands or in some cases millions of followers will not follow you in return.
As general rule it makes the most sense to follow those people who would also be interested in what you have to say, and will in turn follow you
There is a free Twitter management website www.tweepi.com that allows you to manage your Twitter account. This site provides tools for unfollowing people who are not following you, or following groups of people of those that you follow on Twitter also follow.
No professionals, that I know, view this as a revenue generator or resource for building a viable client base.
In addition to the pirating of images, clients do not use this as a resource for finding professionals.
The interface has become outdated, and Yahoo is no longer relevant search engine.. It was surpassed by Google many years ago.
Some photographers claim to make print sales from Flikr, but prices are so low, I don’t believe it is worth the upload time, and pirating is a major concern.
Instagram can be a time waster, if you are not careful.
If you do believe in using Instagram and are a professional photographer it most advantageous to post images that you feel represent your best quality work and post ads or assignments that you feel especially proud of.
Avoid the use of filters. They are generic and overused by most people. Rarely do they improve a weak photo, especially if you are a professional.
I am not aware of any clients searching for talent on Instagram as it not seen as a resource for finding professional photographers. I suppose it is possible to attract the attention of a decision maker but only if they follow you and you post high quality imagery.
It is of course possible to follow lots of people without actually posting yourself and create an account that is not linked to your professional identity, but in my opinion this is not the most useful social media tool for driving client business and opening up new opportunities, professionally. It can be fun as long as you use it properly and don’t become consumed with posting and coming up with clever hastags to boost your ego.
No real cons other than over-pinning or pinning content that is not relevant to your brand or business.
It is a public forum so it is important to keep this in mind. If you only use Pinterest to create mood boards that you would like to remain private it is possible to utilize privacy settings.
Allows photographer to post work in progress, and include revisions.
Developed by Twitter, Vine is a video app that it is used to create a a 6 second animated GIF with an audio background. Vine utilizes the iphone/android camera and microphone to record video clips that can be linked to Twitter and Facebook.
Vine is still in its infancy and used mostly used by amatures. It may prove useful to photographers in the future.. Currently it is not worth engaging in unless you have strong video component to your website. It is hard to make an impression in six seconds and under.
In order to use this social media tool effectively it is important to be cognizant of certain fundamentals. Google + is still fairly new and as such is not that widely used or understood. All content is indexed through a Google search so it can be helpful in increasing your ranking on the Google search engines.
To best utilize Google + it is important to do the following:
Fortunately due to the abundance of social media outlets, there are now many companies that will manage your content from one source and publish them across multiple platforms for you, so you do not have to spend all your time posting to all your various outlets. Hootsuite www.hootsuite.com is one of the more popular options. They have various subscription levels depending on the degree of social media management you desire.
A few important things to remember:
TENS TIPS FOR GENERATING REVENUE IN A SLOW MONTH:
1. TEST SHOOTS: Testing is a great way of freshening your portfolio and generating new content for your blog, website and portfolio. Shoot work you would like to have been hired to shoot, along with locations and subjects that inspire you. Studios, models and crew will often agree to test on slow months if it adds to their portfolio. Also consider delving into a personal project to keep your motivation high, when you are not on assignment.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA: Update your social media profiles, and consider changing your profile picture. Include any recent accolades, new clients, and new images for Behance or Tumblr.sites. This is also a great time to update your bios. Keep them concise and factual without being pedantic.
3. PRINT PORTFOLIO: Revisit your print portfolio. If you don’t have new images to show, rearrange the images in your book so it looks new to clients. If your book looks dated, or tattered consider investing in new housing. There are numerous inexpensive custom and off the shelf options. My personal favorites are listed on the resources page of my website.
4. WEBSITE: Take some time to review your current website design and consider enlisting a few beta testers to revisit your online portfolio on both Mac and PC platforms. Be sure your social media contact links are active. There are a host of new template and custom portfolio sites. Your website should run exclusively on HTML, without any flash elements.
5. WEB PORTALS: Update the “hero image” on your online portals such as Workbook, Found Folios or LeBook. Photographers often neglect this this simple step. Without a new hero image, clients tend to assume the portfolio has not changed even though you may have shot and incorporated new images to your website and print portfolio.
6. LINKEDIN: Reflect on who you have met during the year and reach out to connect with them. It is helpful to include a personal note with the request so your contact remembers the context in which you met them. In the same vein, be sure to provide new content or updates weekly to LinkedIn and Twitter. It is easy to connect the two so you do not need to re-post to Twitter. Your updates need not always be personal. Add links to content from articles you found engaging. Try to engage your followers and contacts with interesting new content and avoid being overly solicitous.
7. DATABASE: Update your database on Constant Contact, Vertical Response or MailChimp. Add in any new contacts, so it remains current. This is also a good time to review AdAge, Adweek, and Communication Arts and enter in new clients that may not be included in your database or in standardized lists. Agency and editorial turnover is high, so it is wise to revisit any segmented lists you created. Be sure to allocate some time, each day, for cold calls and enter the results in your contact screens.
8. PORTFOLIO APPS: If you do not have a tablet, now is the time to invest in one. Along with a printed portfolio, this is a must have. There are a myriad of new low cost portfolio apps on the market. They all offer a different array of options and customization.
9. STATS: Review your stats on Google Analytics, Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. This gives you solid information to help determine what your clients are responding to and the most effective and cost efficient way to reach them in the future.
10. MARKETING BUDGET: Decide on your marketing budget and how to allocate those precious marketing dollars. Options include, online portals, source books, direct mail, E-promos and in-person meetings. Try to gauge your spending based on what has worked effectively for you in the past. If they are not yielding the results you desire, try a new approach. Every client has different “touch points” and a multi-tiered marketing approach is usually the most effective.
A “push” promotional sales strategy is when you use a variety of activities to get your message in front of your client. Using this approach, your marketing materials are “pushed” in front of your ideal client and buyer.
In a “push” approach, you actively promote your brand through traditional marketing tools such as direct mail, emails and cold calls. You are in complete control of the message you send out, how it is seen, when and where.
“Pull” marketing is about developing relationships that attract your ideal client to you. It demonstrates the value you offer to prospects so they are attracted to your products and services. “Pull” marketing activities build relationships and can include blogging, tweeting, LinkedIn networking and podcasts.
The idea behind “pull” marketing is to build a fan base so your potential clients follow you and actively look forward to seeing new work and blog updates. Your goal in “pull” marketing is to cultivate connections and relationships with your clients and potential clients by offering up relevant and interesting news and building a community of “followers.”
Chase Jarvis (www.chasejarvis.com), a photographer known to many of you, has created an international following not only due to his talent but to his ability to inspire others to follow him. He generates excitement and energy through his live program modules, where he has guest speakers discussing industry topics and behind-the-scenes videos. His commitment to what he does and the people he speaks with inspires his followers and his willingness to share his honest opinion and those of others has generated an enormous following.
Your goal in “pull” marketing, as a photographer and entrepreneur, is to develop a strong personal brand and voluntarily give your audience a reason to follow you on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as opting into any newsletters you produce.
Below are five important points to consider when developing your “pull” marketing plan:
1. Are you updating your blog on at least a monthly basis?
2. Are you connecting with clients you have worked with through LinkedIn or Facebook if you have a personal relationship with them?
3. Do you share relevant personal projects with your potential clients to keep them involved and updated on what is inspiring you both creatively and personally?
4. Do you have an understanding of your target audience and what is your unique contribution to this market? Is this demonstrated in your website, blog and your communication with them?
5. Do you network by participating in events where you will be able to see your clients and other industry professionals? Word of mouth and personal referrals are still the best ways to get new business. Developing connections and relationships with new clients always takes time, so patience is required. But the more active you are in maintaining and developing your fan base, the more success you will have.
As we are in a very competitive industry, it’s necessary to use both “push” and “pull” techniques to generate and maintain an active client base. Remember four important “push” strategies:
1. Send bi-monthly email promotions to your targeted client list, built through a database service such as Agency Access. Typical categories for a lifestyle photographer might include regional and national advertising agencies, book and magazine publishers, corporate in-house creative departments and design and PR agencies.
When designing your email promotion, pick compelling images that draw the viewer in and are appropriate for your target market. Monitor your analytics to develop a secondary lists of clients that have opened your email and clicked through to your site.
When following up on an email promotion, it is helpful to include a link to a professionally designed PDF portfolio that includes a title page with your name and contact information. The PDF should be reflective of the market you’re targeting and should be sequenced for flow in a similar fashion as your print portfolio. But unlike your print portfolio, it should not be longer than 25 spreads or 50 images in total. Linking to a PDF portfolio makes it easier for a client to quickly look at your portfolio without calling it in.
2. Increase your odds of being found by placing your portfolio in an online portal – and reap the benefits of exposure to a broad range of clients who you may not have necessarily marketed to. Visitors to portfolio sites could be looking for your subject matter and style, as well as talent in your geographic region.
3. Send bi-monthly direct mail campaigns to between 100 and 250 of your top prospects. That list should include your dream clients and those clients who have expressed interest in your email promotions. Depending on your overall budget, this can be as simple as a well-designed postcard or an elaborate gatefold presentation or catalog.
4 Make client calls. It’s very important to set a weekly schedule to contact potential clients to arrange face-to-face meetings to show your portfolio, in addition to building a rapport with clients likely to hire you. Keep a record of the calls you have made and enter in follow-up dates and any relevant details regarding the clients’ accounts.
Most important in your “push” is maintaining and updating a yearly marketing plan that schedules your electronic and direct marketing efforts. This will keep you on track and assist you in monitoring what has been most successful for you in generating business.
Following Up After Bidding a Job
Question: After I bid a job, how should I keep in touch?
The first rule of thumb is to ask your client when he or she is planning to make a final decision regarding your estimate. Be aware, though: Those dates don’t always hold fast, and many times decisions get delayed because of last-minute copy changes, decision-makers being out of town and unable to sign off on the final numbers, and other factors.
I believe a phone call and an email is the best way to ensure you get a reply. A simple statement – “just checking in with you to see if you were any closer to making a decision on the Acme Adhesive shoot. I’m sure you’re very busy, but any information you can provide would be most appreciated” – can have a profound and direct effect.
Helping the Decision-Making Process
If you genuinely have another client holding those same days, you should mention that and let the potential client know that a timely decision will ensure he or she gets the shoot dates he or she desires. If you don’t have days on hold, don’t say you do – this always backfires as the client releases you from the hold and you are left with nothing. It’s best to be honest, but persistent.
Another helpful tool in getting clients to make a decision is to provide some additional ideas (location/talent/wardrobe/lighting) to let them know that you’re still thinking about their job and not merely waiting for the purchase order to be approved. The more you can engage a client during that “hurry up and wait” period, the better chance you have of getting job.
Have Patience and Faith
The caveat here is not to appear desperate or needy. Your thought process here should be, “I want the job, I am the right person for the job and I will do an amazing job, better than any other photographer.” It should not be, “I need this job, I know I can keep the client happy and on budget, but if I don’t get it that means I have nothing on the calendar for the next month, so now it’s time to panic!”
I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t let them see you sweat. Show your interest and enthusiasm without acting clingy. Don’t offer to drop by the office unless you’re asked for a pre-pro meeting; don’t send a thank-you gift, and don’t offer to drop your price.
Have faith that you are the right person for the job, and believe it! If you do, good news will follow.
Part of the process of generating ideas is giving your creative and problem-solving abilities a workout. Although the bulk of your ideas may not carry through, they will serve as inspiration and fodder for future projects.
Generating ideas for projects draws on your imagination and leads to more flexible thinking, which benefits you whether or not you actually complete the project. These ideas will infiltrate your life in the way you think about personal and commercial projects, and keep you focused on your priorities.
Alex Osborn – the “O” in BBDO – created the concept of “brainstorming,” which is a way for a group to come up with many ideas in a short period of time. The same guidelines for generating ideas apply when you’re working alone. In his book Applied Imagination, Osborn provides four key guidelines:
1. Defer judgment: No criticism right away. Yes, at some point, it is important to judge an idea, but don’t do it while you’re trying to generate ideas.
2. Strive for quantity: Osborn states that “quantity breeds quality.” Basically, the more ideas you come up with, the more likely one or more of them will be great.
3. Seek unusual, even crazy ideas: Osborn said “it is easier to tame down than to think up.” In other words, we can worry later about how to make it work. For now, look for as many seemingly “crazy” ideas as you can – the wilder, the better.
4. Combine and build on ideas: “Piggyback” or “hitchhike” one idea to another to create a new idea.
By using these principles when seeking new ideas or options, you give yourself permission to come up with ideas you might not otherwise pay any attention to – but actually make sense when you think about them, tame them down or add something else.
The only thing that you can’t change in this process is the concept of not giving up. When we’re faced with a particular challenge or problem, it’s easy to say “I can’t do it” or “I don’t know how to solve it” or “it’s impossible.”
Nothing is impossible. Give yourself the chance to look for ideas before you judge them. Your ability to create solutions may surprise you.
Clearly, the completion of projects is important in the long term. But in a creative process there are not always clearly definable linear goals. The creative process is a flexible one, and the project you set out to complete will likely not be the final one. By allowing yourself the freedom to redefine the project, you gain clarity and feel less pressured by perfectionist thinking.
As Albert Einstein noted, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Working with a consultant should be a collaborative process. A consultant should clearly understand your career thus far and be able to assist you in getting you to where you’d like to be, professionally and artistically.
It is important when working with a consultant to be up-front and honest about what you hope to achieve, and the amount of time you’re willing to put into the process. The more focused and clear you are with the consultant, the more effective the consultations will be. Remember, it’s sometimes necessary to get out of your comfort zone to make long-lasting changes.
Copyright: Zoran Milich
Before you hire a consultant, sit down and prepare a list of objectives and obstacles you’ve encountered. Examples might include objectives like reaching a larger audience and determining the best use of email, direct mail, one-on-one meetings and social networking to promote your work; common obstacles include keeping style and production values clear when improving a website. Most consultants will look at your website and arrange a conference call with you to discuss its strengths and weakness, and to offer suggestions on how you can work together to achieve all of your goals.
Typically, once a photographer and I have agreed on the photographer’s objectives and scope of the project, I’ll ask to see a selection of up to 1,000 images (delivered via Lightroom or Aperture) to get a more comprehensive view of the photographer’s range of work. I also ask photographers to show me 10 examples of work they aspire to and images that have moved them professionally and/or personally. This gives me an idea of how to advise them on an effective edit and a constructive plan to expand their market.
It’s important to allow yourself to be open to constructive criticism. The process can be difficult at times and you’re always free to disagree, but an important component to working well with a consultant is to allow yourself the freedom of not having all the answers, and trusting the consultant’s background and experience. Consultants are there to assist you, and one common challenge they face is convincing artists to detach personal connections to certain images and take a fresh look at what makes for a cohesive, original body of work that’s geared toward getting the best assignments possible.
It’s also important for an artist to be realistic about the time, money and energy that are required to make changes, and to commit to the process. A good consultant can lead you in the right direction, but ultimately the work of change comes from you.Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet, and the consultant needs to know what you’re presently doing – and what’s not working – to get you where you want to go.
When I work with a photographer, I typically put together an Excel timeline with goals and objectives, as well as the costs of implementing the suggestions and a clear list of who’s responsible for following up on the objectives. For example, I always create marketing lists for my clients and monitor and revise them throughout the process based on click-throughs and website changes. I’m also very involved with artists in determining their one-year marketing strategy and providing the tools and analysis that help them best connect with the right creatives for their work.
My background as an agent for photographers has provided me with strong negotiation skills and an in-depth understanding of how to create comprehensive estimates that maximize profits while effectively managing a photographer’s time and expenses. A good consultant will also work with artists on their negotiation skills and step in to offer suggestions on communicating with difficult clients or meeting challenging budgets. Many artists feel uncomfortable with the negotiation process and welcome strategy sessions on how to overcome these obstacles.
A consultant is your tool for developing effective communication strategies, clearly defining your goals and refining your vehicles of presentation, such as your print portfolio and website. Consultants are there to help you focus your energies, expand creatively and maintain positive momentum in promoting your career.
It’s always better to take a proactive approach to marketing your business than a passive one. What’s the biggest fear we all face? The fear of rejection. It can be very hard to overcome, but if you want to succeed, it’s something you must conquer.
Your prospects are not looking for perfection. They’re looking for someone who’s able to solve their problems with time, effort, commitment and originality. That being said, be mindful and respectful of existing and potential clients’ time when you’re prospecting and contacting them.
1. Identify and market to those who are most likely to hire you. Don’t waste your time, effort and marketing dollars on clients who are unlikely to hire you.
2. Know your strengths. Instill confidence in your prospective clients by showing them you understand their needs. Demonstrate this through all your communications, emails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings.
3. Implement a “keep in-touch” program. Create a list of clients you’ve worked with and those who have expressed interest in your work. Keep them updated on your recent activities and thank them for their support. Your goal is to create long-term relationships that encourage repeat and referral business.
4. Be noticed and remembered. When you’re creating your email campaign or print promotion, think about what would put you ahead of your competition. Strive for originality and relevance.
5. Create a one-year marketing plan. This will assist you in managing your communications and budgeting for the costs involved.
Let’s examine the definition of a business trend according to the BusinessDictionary.com: “a pattern of gradual change in a condition, output or process, or an average or general tendency of a series of data points to move in a certain direction over time.”
The biggest trend in the last twenty years, without a doubt, has been the transition from film to digital. For better or worse, it is expected that every photographer who is estimating a commercial project will possess a complete understanding of how to seamlessly deliver and produce a shoot digitally.
The technological revolution is continuing at a warp speed, evolving and becoming even cheaper and more available to the general public. But the advances have also unfortunately downgraded the perception of the skill of the photographer, making it harder to distinguish the professional photographer from the “prosumer.”
The move from the print portfolio to the tablet/iPad is another rapidly advancing trend, considering that Apple introduced the iPad in January 2010. Many younger photographers I consult do not see value in a printed portfolio and exclusively use tablets to show their work. I still maintain that the printed portfolio is an important tool in your promotional material toolkit. While it is no longer required to have multiple portfolios, the ability to produce one on demand is something that can separate you from the competition when it comes to the final bid.
There is no denying that the level and sophistication of portfolios on tablets will continue to rise. That being said, it is necessary to embrace technology and choose a website developer that understands the necessity for your portfolio to be viewable across multiple devices, whether it’s on a PC, Android or Apple product.
Another trend is for clients to choose the same photographer for both the commercial and still shoot. When RED’s revolutionary digital still and cinema cameras came onto the scene in 2008, many photographers began incorporating motion and still photography on their website. Clients began to realize that – in cost saving maneuvers – they could hire the same photographer to do both shoots. If you are comfortable shooting motion and have the ability to do it well, you should showcase this on your website.
Directly marketing towards consumers based on their email click-through patterns, website selections, social media and networking usage will continue. Watching consumer patterns allows advertisers to refine their marketing strategies by directly targeting the individual most likely to use their product. In branding your website, if you can show how your images have and can be used in cross platforms, ambient media and interactively will increase your marketability and allow you to compete as new forms of media develop.
Companies such as Condé Nast & the Hearst Corporation have spent a considerable amount of research and advertising dollars in creating living magazines that the viewer can interact with. Subscribers can interact with streaming videos on how to create the perfect martini or train for an upcoming marathon over their mobile phone or tablet. As more and more magazines evolve on tablets, photographers who understand how to utilize this media will differentiate themselves from those who are not embracing the trend. Check out www.alexxhenry.com for some interesting uses of new technology. Alexx won the 2011 Cannes Gold Lion award for the iPad’s first editorial interactive motion feature spread.
The consumer demand for live content will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Photographers who can capitalize on this important trend, and offer suggestions to the client on how to bring their product to life, will be in high demand.