In Episode 33 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim and Dustin go through 7 inexpensive ways to get your photography noticed (commercially or otherwise).
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Guide to Episode 33
Today's episode is a departure from our typical “Question/Answer” format. Stay tuned next week for more Q&A, but for this week please join Jim and Dustin for some great tips about how to get your photography noticed.
Do you want people to notice your photography? Do you want more customers, more likes, more feedback? Photographers thrive on the feedback of others. Today Jim and Dustin would like to share 7 inexpensive things you can do to get your photography noticed. Most of these steps can be completed in under a month, so if you're looking for a way to get your photography out there, read on!
- [2:34] You Need a Website
You're a photographer. You take photos (lots of them) – it's what you do. But what photographer wants their photos gathering dust on their hard drive? We all want to share our work, and the best way to get your photos noticed is to have a place people can go to look at what you've created. Setting up an art gallery on Main Street isn't very realistic for most people these days – the cost and energy to maintain something like that just isn't practical. But in this digital age, there is a very simple and inexpensive way to let all kinds of people see your work: set up a website for your photography!
Now remember – the reason people are coming to your site is to enjoy your photos, not because they really want to see what amazing web-development skills you have. So don't have some swirly whiz-bang intro to your site – you just want one big photo (of your best stuff!) and then a clean, easy way for them to see your work. Check out this link for some step-by-step help getting your site set up with Wordpress. Getting a website going can seem like a giant task, but this is something you could absolutely do in less than a day. When it's that fast, that easy, and we're giving you step-by-step directions, how can you justify putting it off?
- [4:35] Your Site Should Be Useful and Interesting
You've set up your website, but all you hear are crickets chirping. You're not getting any traffic to your site. Nobody is looking for you, nobody is sharing what you're doing, and nobody is talking about you. Sure, you may have just posted a blog post about the latest wedding you shot (Weren't they a cute couple?). But aside from the immediate family and friends of that couple, there's nobody that is interested in what you've got up on your site.
The way to solve this problem is to put useful and interesting content on your website – things that make people think “Hey – I've got to come back here!” Consider taking some photos of your hometown (or your current town) and creating a really nice landscape picture that you offer as a free download so people can use it as their desktop background. Think of something that will attract the kind of people you're looking for and make that available to them through your website. For about 40 minutes a week, you can update your site with a nice blog post that will keep people interested and coming back.
- [8:36] Connect With People
Don't forget the value of real connections with people! Interact with real people, face to face. Even in this digital age, in-person contact is still a really great way to get noticed. Join a photo club. Go to Meetup.com and look for groups in your city. When you talk with people about your photography, refer them to your site.
Especially when you're starting out, a lot of your web traffic will come from people who you have interacted with in person. And when people are clicking around on your site, the site begins to look “lived in”. Before you know it, there are 10 comments on your most recent post. People are sharing it with their friends, and the social feedback from being on a “lived in” site is telling them that this is something other people will enjoy.
- [13:00] Share Photos that People Actually Want
Give people a taste of what you can do in a context that they actually care about. If they actually have an interest in the photos you take, they are more likely to remember your work.
Are you attending an event? Bring your camera! This is a great time for you to take some photos and then share them with the people involved (for example: put them on the Facebook page for the group who sponsored the event, offering them as free downloads). Be willing to share your photos, even if you're not getting paid to do it. Don't get caught up in thinking you need to be paid for all your photography work. Remember that part of what you're looking for is just getting noticed. If people see that you took some really fantastic photos of their event, they will be more likely to come to you when they want other photography done.
Did you get an amazing shot of a really cool building? Contact the owner of the building and offer them the use of your photo on their website in return for a property release. This might open the door to some really great opportunities with them in the future.
- [17:56] Make it Sticky
Now that you have people coming to your site, you need a way to keep them around. You need to give them a reason and a way to stay connected with your brand. The very best way to do this is with email. Start an email list. This might feel a little strange if you're not a business, but it's still a really great way to get yourself noticed. Use MailChimp.com – it's free, up to 500 people! This way when you post on your website, all the people who have joined your mailing list will get an email about your post. This is a great way to keep in contact with people, and a wonderful way to get some personal feedback on your photography.
If you use Wordpress for your website, there are some really great plugins you can use to connect it to MailChimp. This keeps people on top of your site without you needing to do any of the extra legwork.
- [21:55] Be Social
Social media is a big deal. You can reach a lot of people through the various social media networks. However, it is important that you look at social media as a way to communicate with your followers, instead of as a way to generate followers. Social media is a great way to get people to stay with you but not necessarily a great tool for getting new people to follow you. Once you have people attached to your brand, you want to bring them into your social media network so they can stay in touch with you and the community.
If you're on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, you need to be active. It's extremely important that you talk and interact with people. If you want people to be active on your social media forums, you need to be vocal on theirs. Be friendly, be genuine, be outgoing, and you will find that people will do the same for you.
- [28:28] Take the Photos that Nobody Else Will
This is the hardest step, and takes the most time – it's probably something that you'll work at forever. Take a look at your work, and ask yourself this question: Could you take your photography to the next level?
Dustin took this awesome photo of a couple in an alley. (Click here to see his blog post about the photo.) It's really a fantastic photo, but even Dustin himself knows that there are always ways to make a great photo even better. What would Hollywood do to this scene if they were in control? If you think about it in that light, it can give you some really great ideas for what you can do to make this a photo that nobody else is even willing to spend the time and effort to take.
Ask yourself what you could do differently and better. Otherwise you're just going to take the same photo over and over again, and you'll never improve. Be the photographer who is willing to go through incredible amounts of work to make a fantastic photo.
Photography is a skill, a talent, something you can improve. We want you to pick one of these 7 things and do it! Post below and tell us what you're going to do. We'd love to hear how you're getting noticed!