Social Media for Your Photography Business

Yesterday I took the plunge and joined 500px.com and uploaded some of my landscape photos. 500px is a great resource with lots of talented photographers. I have visited the site before and some of the photographs are breathtaking and inspiring (except for all that nudity that seems to dominate the site – had to turn it off from my profile). While uploading images, I realized that I have not updated my Google+ photos either, so I decided to do that as well. Then, somebody contacted me through my long forgotten Flickr account, asking a photography question. All this is happening while I am trying to simultaneously update my Twitter and Facebook accounts. And I won’t even go into talking about all the YouTube, Pinterest, Myspace, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon and LiveJournal requests and comments that keep pouring into my email address.

Social Media for Photography

I get it, Social Media is taking over the world. We interact with it every day, be it through our phones, computers and other devices. We hear about it on TV, radio, advertising and local paper news. Heck, even president Obama has a Facebook page! But with all these popular sites popping up left and right, it seems to get harder for us photographers and business owners to keep track of them all. You focus on one and lose potential customers in another. Focus on them all and you could be wasting a lot of your time just trying to keep up! I “unfriended” everyone (no offense if you were among them) except my old friends and family in Facebook and even then my main feed is overloaded with fresh content every minute. I once spent a couple of hours just looking through what my friends and family posted on Facebook and I realized that social media sites are designed to keep us in and waste our time. There is a reason why Facebook’s IPO has been all over the news. They generate so much traffic, that they are taking over search engine giants like Google and Yahoo, who have been dominating the Internet traffic by a huge margin for many years.

So what do we do? How do we keep up with all the social media interaction, while trying to simultaneously manage a tough business? You cannot ignore social media. Everyone is using it and believe it or not, but some photographers get most of their clients from sites like Facebook and Twitter. Wedding photographers start out by interacting with past and current clients, who eventually lead them to future clients – friends and family that stumbled upon their pictures in their social media profiles. Hence, considering how gargantuan these social media platforms have gotten, you have to learn how to use them effectively for your business. Or your competitors will. However, you have to be smart about how you spend your time online. Do you need to be on all social media platforms and photography websites for your business? Definitely no. It would be a huge waste of your precious time. Here are some tips on getting started with social media for your business:

  1. Before you start evaluating which platform to use, define a time limit for your social media interaction. Think of social media as a strategic tool for your business that should be used in moderation. Whether you like it or not, you most likely will have your friends and family connected to your account. Try to limit those personal interactions and avoid looking at news feeds – they will only distract you. I rarely spend more than 30-45 minutes per day on all social media sites combined.
  2. Start out with one platform – I recommend Facebook, since it is the biggest. Plus, you probably already have a Facebook account anyway. Learn how to create and customize your business page that will be representing you. Do not go after every social media site you can find. It is better to have 1000 connections on one social media site, then to have 100 connections on 10 different sites.
  3. Once you build your Facebook page, start promoting it via your blog/website and use various widgets and gadgets to show your fans and possibly even your latest feeds. People like it when they know that you are active and engaged with your fans.
  4. Add social media share buttons to your website, so that your visitors could help promote your content.
  5. Create a nice-looking portfolio with your best images on Facebook. Afterall, your future clients will be looking at it!
  6. Stick to discussing your business and promoting your existing and new blog posts. Never discuss politics / religion and definitely avoid criticizing another person, especially if he/she is a photographer. The world is small, word gets around fast.
  7. If anyone asks a question, do your best to respond as soon as you can. A potential client might reach out to you and others at the same time, so it never hurts to be among the first to respond.
  8. Once you have a solid base of followers/fans and you know well how to get around in Facebook, evaluate Twitter and Google+ for expanding your reach.
  9. Connect your mobile device (iPhone/Android) to social media sites, especially when you travel and you have limited access to the Internet. You never know when your potential clients could contact you.
  10. Add social media interaction to your photography workflow. Once Lola and I post content on our sites, we immediately share it on Facebook and Twitter – the process has become a part of our daily workflow.
  11. If you would like to get some real feedback on your photographs from your peers, pick one platform like Flickr or 500px and upload your best work. Don’t be afraid of criticism and don’t get discouraged if you do not get any feedback. As long as you are putting enough effort to improve your photography, you will get better – it is just a matter of time.

I am probably forgetting many other things here, so I will update this post with more info later this week. More to come!

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Muddasir Javed
    February 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I agree. For the longest time I did not even have a facebook page. These media outlets are tools to get out in the open space and I do mean space. World is a much close place now due to these media connections. Can help you a lot by getting you potential clients and get your name out there. It can also hurt too; more like a double edged sword, by eating up a lot of your time.

    Once again a nicely put article. Always a pleasure.

  2. 2
    ) William Jones
    February 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    As an asocial person, I have avoided Facebook, Twitter, etc. Also, since I specialize in horse polo in my physical area, and therefore interact directly with the players, have never felt the need to reach out and be touched by others (part of my asocial nature). I am sure this has cost me potential business, and will have to consider such after reading your article ( and further research).

    I was not aware of the 500px site, so thank you for that information. Will spend tonight becoming familiar with it.

    WEJ

  3. 3
    ) John Richardson
    February 22, 2012 at 12:59 am

    I gave up the Facebook race for a while and a few years later reopened a new one.

    But I have found 500px to be most interesting. For me most social sites were just for “likes” and “hugs” and really gave me no positive feedback on my photography. Well, the problem was it was ALL positive, even if I posted junk….that is not for me.

    I have Google+ fired up but have yet to load it up with photos and friends (few of which I have that actually speak English)

  4. 4
    ) Mustafa
    February 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Facebook is like 28-200 lens, it works ok.. but when you need good results, you need better glass.

    I consider 500px not only for peers, but also for potential business. I put some picture on Facebook, and let people know I am there, but put real stuff on photo-sharing sites and link back to it on facebook.

    Mustafa

    • 5
      ) david
      February 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      “…Facebook is like 28-200 lens, it works ok.. but when you need good results, you need better glass…”

      Absolutely love your quote, Mustafa!

      And 500px? Been visiting it for awhile and…well…all the images start to look the same. Same portraits, same landscapes of blurred water, same piers into the ocean, same wildlife shots. Only rarely is there something unique.

      Photography is not my business — it’s my hobby. I’ve sold images over the years but never worry if I don’t sell something.

      I’ll continue to maintain my own photo and blog websites. They may not get as much traffic but they are more secure and more enjoyable. Going down the social network path is, for me, a waste of my limited time. Plus, I don’t give those social sites license to use my images. (Ever read the Terms of Use of some of those sites?)

      But I will continue to visit this site, Nasim, because I enjoy your blog postings and tutorials.

      Thanks!!!

      David

      • 6
        ) John Richardson
        February 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        Check out some of the Russians on 500px. It took a few days to sort through the people I really liked. But … I did run across some kitten and baby shots. :(

        • 7
          ) Muddasir Javed
          February 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm

          I have some baby shots John, If you want to go over my portfolio at 500px. Its http://n0mi.500px.com
          My baby pics are mostly of hands and feet with different angles.

          They just upgraded their website and looks very fancy. They have now added the option to buy images.

          • 10
            ) John Richardson
            February 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm

            I will ! As soon as I can get it to open !
            Thanks!

  5. 8
    ) William Jones
    February 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    The “improvements” to 500px are making it run like a dead dog chained to a mountain. It also no longer functions well with Internet Explorer (Google Chrome works better, don’t know about Firefox).

    • February 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      William, seems like they are running into a lot of issues after the upgrade today…just be patient and it will all work tomorrow!

      • 11
        ) John Richardson
        February 23, 2012 at 1:05 am

        It is 10 am in Ukraine, so I know they are up working on it. Slowly things are coming back on line. Flows are back and I think the new Market Place is bogging them down at the moment. But it is getting better.

        Which begs some comments on what is for sale, and more importantly why….maybe another time lol

      • 12
        ) John Richardson
        February 23, 2012 at 1:59 am

        I hope so, because right now, it is seriously a mess. As new features come on line it just worse and word. I used to love 500px, I hope in a day or two they have it ironed out.

  6. 13
    ) kamal
    February 23, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Have anyone tried http://www.1x.com

    Heard that it is very tough to publish a picture

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Kamal, haven’t tried it, but it also looks quite interesting!

      • 17
        ) Kamal
        February 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

        Nasim, yes it is quite interesting. I would love to see your pictures being published in http://www.1x.com.

        This is one of the site where Apple, Microsoft and other big ones fish for wallpapers and logos :-)

        Please keep me posted..

        Keep well,
        Kamal

  7. 14
    ) Maegan
    February 23, 2012 at 9:09 am

    As a painter, I’ve grown used to seeing nudity on paper. But a well detailed photograph is a bit too much for me unless there is a baby involved. Thank you for letting me know I can change that in my account settings!

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      You are most welcome Maegan! Although I turned mine off, some pictures still slip through every once in a while. Looks like 500px is pretty heavy on nudity :(

  8. February 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Excellent article Nasim. It can sometimes get confusing and overwhelming to make a decision on which platform to use in the social media world we live in. I totally agree with the point that the objective is not to be present on all outlets but instead choose the right one that represents your vision and business.

    Thanks again for a great read.

    Regards from Brussels

    Kamyar

    http://www.raymakphotography.com
    http://www.raymakstudios.com

  9. February 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Haven’t heard about this 500px.com until I read it here on your blog so kudos to you for sharing it and high five for me as I am a photo enthusiast and I’d like to keep track of the photos I’ve been taking. I didn’t enjoy sharing it on Facebook but on this one I think I will.

  10. March 5, 2012 at 3:43 am

    I had’t heard of 500px either, I have since signed up, thank you!

  11. 21
    ) Davi
    September 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Hi, Nasim.
    My question is topic related in some way but I think it fits in other categories too, like copyright and avoiding improper use of our images.
    Should I upload my images to 500px and flickr as full size JPGs (4,928 x 3,264) or should I resize them (for example to 1024 x 678)?. What would be better considering aspects like cloud backup vs eventual full size images e-robery?
    How copyright watermarks should be used for the web? Discretely in a corner or over the main subject? Is it necessaire to use copyright watermarks at all? (I see that none of your images on 500px have them).
    I dont know if this is the right place to ask but I didn’t know where else to.
    Hope this reaches you so you can help me.

    Thank you.

    Davi.

    PS: There are other questions I would like to ask you but don’t know where to.
    And sorry for my vocabulary and possible mistakes.

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