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Top Ten Steps To Launching Your Own Photography Business

Setting out in the photography business is no easy task, the market place is saturated with cheap photographers all fighting it out on price alone and these guys will never make a living from photography. To succeed in the industry, you need to have a niche and develop your brand around this discreet market with your own individual message and offering, allowing you to charge more for your products and services.

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Setting out in the photography business is no easy task, the market place is saturated with cheap photographers all fighting it out on price alone and these guys will never make a living from photography. To succeed in the industry, you need to have a niche and develop your brand around this discreet market with your own individual message and offering, allowing you to charge more for your products and services. Once your brand and niche are developed then it’s a case of marketing your services to your target clients through your website, email, blogs and social media channels. Marketing is the forefront of any successful photography business.  Without marketing, a clear set of goals, plus a timeline for achieving those goals, your venture will never reach its potential and you will spend years missing out on what could be a very financially rewarding occupation. These top eleven tips follow the same format as my “Six Steps to Success: Photography Marketing & Mentoring Program” that has helped photographers worldwide achieve their true potential and earn a six-figure income from photography.

FINDING YOUR NICHE IN YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE

The key to real success and collecting the higher fees we all dream of charging for our work lies in developing our individual niche. Too many photographers start out by trying to be a photographer for all; their websites offer exhaustive lists of services—from weddings, to commercial, landscapes to pet photography. This shop-worn, “a Jack of all trades but master of none” approach is confusing for a buyer, who already has the entire internet to scroll through and a finite lifespan.

My advice to any photographer starting out is to go niche; simply explore what drives your passion, ignore the competition, and focus on what gets you excited. If you’re an animal lover and you enjoy taking photographs of dogs, then your obvious choice has got to be pet photography. You are more likely to make a huge success of your business doing something you are truly passionate about. When your work is driven by passion, it takes on a whole new form. Imagine you are the chairman of a large golf club and you are searching for a photographer. Who would you trust to photograph a very high-profile tournament on your course? Would it be the photographer with weddings and landscapes on his website, or the golf photographer who is maybe a little more expensive but is the expert in his field?

Then build your brand, your website, and social media purely around that milieu. Do not dilute your message by offering other forms of photography through these channels. If you want to build a great interactive following and be known as the “go-to person” in your industry, then keep the written content and images you post directly associated to your bailiwick. By way of addressing the importance of optics, a well-developed professional persona allows you to approach companies and people with confidence.

Of course, it would be foolhardy not to leverage one’s multiple talents across markets, and so if you have multiple endeavours, the same simple rule applies: keep it niche and cultivate distinct brands. At my peak, I had five different photography platforms, all running from the same office and studio addresses, however each niche had its own message, its own style, branding, website, and social media. This allowed us to be the “go-to people” in the industry and because of this we could charge a premium price.By way of addressing the importance of optics, a well-developed professional persona allows you to approach companies and people with confidence.


DEVELOP YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

The next step is to develop a business plan. Before you can build your business, you need to research your market. You need to know the type of people who are going to buy your products and services.
For example you may want to set up as a wedding photographer, looking to direct your niche at the “country house” style wedding venues. Obviously, this is for the higher end of the market, so your customers must be able to afford your prices; it’s no good marketing these services to the budget end of the wedding industry.
Make sure you carry out market research for your business plan. It will help you identify your exact client type, and from this you can build a detailed profile of the type of person that will be looking for your services, and what it is they want from you. Your client profile will need to include their gender, age range, marital status, income bracket, buying habits, interests, and more. Once you know your client profile, you can then work out how you will get your message out to these people and, more importantly, what your message will be. You’ll also need to know who else in your area is targeting your potential clients and what they offer. This will help you determine how you can be different from your competition.  Remember that price is not the deciding factor, unless you are offering a real budget service and selling on price alone. You will need to establish your own USP (unique selling point) to set you apart from your competition, and this will be a major factor in your business plan.

BRANDING IS NOT JUST A LOGO, IT’S EVERYTHING

When we talk about branding, many photographers think this starts and ends with a logo. It doesn’t. Branding is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can utilise, it’s everything your client, thinks, feels, imagines, believes and expects from you. How you create these thoughts and feelings in your clients’ minds is by developing a brand around your key messages. For example, if you want to build a high-end wedding photography brand based on providing an exclusive service that is second to none, your branding needs to send that message to your potential clients.
Fonts, colour schemes, and the wording you use all work in harmony to bring your brand together. For a high-end wedding photographer, your client profile will more than likely be an engaged woman in her 20s to mid 30s with a generous disposable income, whose interests and tastes could include such brands as Michael Kors, Tiffany, Mercedes, Jimmy Choo, and so on. Look at how these companies use their branding to convey a message of quality and class.
Your brand will also incorporate your USP and your company’s strapline (or tagline). As previously mentioned, your USP is your unique selling point and what makes you stand out from the competition. Your strapline is your company’s catch phrase, usually based around your USP. For example, with my own wedding photography, my USP is a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” which means that you’ll love your photos or I’ll give you your money back. My strapline is “Wedding Photography You’ll Simply Love—GUARANTEED.” Think of household name brands like MacDonald’s and Nike; they all have USPs and they all have their own strapline too. What could yours be?
PRICING STRATEGY

I receive hundreds of emails and LinkedIn messages from photographers around the world who join me in my “Photography Masterclass and Mentoring Program.” By far the most frequently asked questions are about pricing. This is something I cover in depth in my program, and will discuss more in future issues.

Currently the photography market is flooded with cut-price photographers all competing against each other on price alone. If you are going to sell on price alone, you’ll never make it in the photography industry. Price should never be the deciding factor in your client’s purchase.
The trick of course, is to walk the correct line that ensures value at every tier, and to not be manipulative in your price guidance…no one likes to feel like they’re being “upsold.”



CREATE YOUR BUSINESS FACEBOOK PAGES

A Facebook page is essential to your business, as it allows you to connect daily with your followers, building their trust, reinforcing your brand message, and growing a loyal community. With over 1 billion active users around the world, there are Facebook pages and groups for every interest you can possibly imagine. The community you build and serve will be loyal to you and your brand only if the content you share is of value to them.  I cannot stress enough: Facebook is not an e-commerce website; it’s a social media platform, and the key is in the word “social.” No one wants to be sold so give your followers great value content, tips, advice, stories, and client testimonials. When they are ready to buy, you will be the first photographer they think of.

The best way to post on your Facebook page is to devise a weekly posting schedule based around your content that your followers will like, share, and comment on. For example, if you run a wedding photography Facebook page, then consider the needs, wants and desires of brides. Monday could be “featured wedding venue day” while Tuesday you could post about the latest must-have wedding essentials, and so on. Remember to give them content that they will value.
Only publish a direct sales post once every seven to ten days. Don’t overdo the selling, however there’s lots of other ways to create an impact for your brand on Facebook without selling it. Try to review a product, such as one of your premium wedding albums, and use a client’s testimonial (rather than your own words) to sell the benefits. Another fantastic way to create a stir on your page is with a great prize giveaway competition, making sure you have runner-up prizes so you can benefit from additional sales after the competition has ended. For example, you could give away a free engagement shoot and large wall canvas worth $500 to the winner—and ten runners up receive $200 vouchers to use against the cost of any wedding storybook package. To date, my most successful Facebook competition netted me over $30,000 of wedding book sales from just one post.

CREATE A LINKED IN PROFILE

Many photographers overlook the value of the world’s biggest online business community, LinkedIn.  However, when used correctly, LinkedIn can be a goldmine and, best of all, it’s free. There’s no need to even bother with the paid ads or a premium account. To date, my best month on LinkedIn has brought me over $6,000 in new business alone, and the key to this has ultimately been my profile specificity. If you are a wedding photographer but you also offer commercial photography services, you can keep your wedding photography on your Facebook page, and build your LinkedIn profile around your commercial photography. LinkedIn works much better when you target a market directly. For example, if you’ve had a lot of experience in photography for the hospitality trade, then base your entire profile around this market, and be the “go-to person” for this kind of photography. Post only content and images based around the hospitality industry and connect with as many people as you can in the pub, restaurant, and hotel trades. Make sure you connect with the decision makers, such as the owners or general managers.
LinkedIn is so undervalued by photographers and those who do use it often use it incorrectly. It is not a social media platform; it is purely for business use. Users of LinkedIn aren’t interested in seeing pictures of your dog, but are interested in niche “thought leadership.” Many of my clients have gone on to become leaders in their own fiefdoms purely through the power of LinkedIn.

DEVELOP A WEBSITE WITH ECOMMERCE

Your business website acts as your social proof and reinforces your brand, but not only that: your website should also be making you money. Too many photographers spend thousands of dollars on websites that are nothing more than online portfolios of their work. Your website must have great content, it must reinforce your brand message, and it should give solid information, tips, and advice to your visitors. Google itself rewards websites that are regularly updated with useful and helpful content, by ranking those sites higher than similar sites that do not share great content with their visitors. By incorporating an e-commerce platform into your website, you are giving prospective clients the ability to easily complete transactions and make secure purchases online, all in one visit to your site. A prospective client may visit your site several times, check out your social media pages, before feel they are ready to book or make a purchase. These days our customers prefer the easiest option. They don’t want to call to book, they don’t want to email and wait for a reply; they want one simple, easy, and secure transaction.
Critical to building trust on any website, you should share customer testimonials on every page, five-star reviews, and vetted links to review sites, as well as your social media pages. Include a page for frequently asked questions.

DEVELOP A BLOG CONNECTED TO YOUR WEBSITE

One of the best ways to provide great content and value to your online visitors while improving your search engine rankings is to incorporate a blog on your website. You can also share links to each of your blog entries via your social media pages, thus enhancing your rankings in search engines.  Google recently admitted that it does take shares of domain URLs through social media into account when assessing the rank of an individual website.

KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS

Not all of us are great writers. This is where outsourcing work can really pay off and save your business time and money.  If you hate writing blog content and you know it’s going to take you forever to do it, then it’s much better to pay a blog writer to do it for you. Chances are they’ll create the content in a fraction of the time it would take you, and your time could be better spent marketing your business, shooting more jobs, or editing your images. If you pay $50 for a well-written blog entry that would have taken you a full day to write, that’s money well spent. Remember if you’re running your business on your own, time is money. Your time is better spent making money by marketing and shooting. Consider even outsourcing your editing if you are spending a disproportionate amount of time doing it.

ADVERTISE ON FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE ADWORDS

So you’ve set up your Facebook page and you have a few hundred followers already. One of the best ways to speed up the growth of any business page is to use Facebook Ads.   Promoting your website through search engines such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads is a huge topic, but both are a must and a worthwhile investment of your time and money. Facebook Ads allows you to show your posts or promote your page to a defined audience. This audience can easily be identified from the wealth of information you have in the client profile in your business plan.
For example, my wedding photography ads are seen by only women who are either in a relationship or engaged; not married or single as they probably won’t be needing a wedding photographer. They are women ages 24 to 38 within a 50-mile radius of my town. I then build up a huge list of interests I think my brides-to-be could possibly have in their Facebook profile; this could be wedding dresses, wedding flowers, local venues by name, wedding magazines and TV shows. This seemingly endless list is targeted and specific. I then select my advertisement budget and aim it toward this audience. Everything is taken in deliberate baby steps when first starting out. Use small ad budgets for both AdWords and Facebook, and check the performance of your adverts daily. If an advert isn’t working after just a few days, pause the ad and make a few adjustments. It could be the wording of the ad itself, or possibly your audience is too narrow and you’re not reaching enough potential clients.

THE IMPORTANCE OF JOINT VENTURES

As with any business in any industry we can’t do it all on our own, so we need to build a strong network of business relationships that will in turn be beneficial to both parties.
One a photographer came to me last year with a struggling pet portrait business. She was turning over less than $200 per month and not getting enough people through the door. After working together on her existing pricing structure, it was clear she had been massively underselling her services. We then looked at additional ways to promote her business with little or no cost involved. We identified a busy local dog grooming business that we could approach. The idea was to have leaflets printed offering a free pet portrait sitting to the salon’s clients when they booked the top dog grooming package. We then had leaflets printed with the stylist’s logo alongside her own, offering a free VIP pet portrait sitting as a valued customer of the salon. The owner could then use the free sitting as an upsell benefit on her own grooming packages, plus we agreed to pay the establishment a 15 percent commission on all portraits sold in the studio.
The joint venture worked, with 90 percent of the clients that came for their free sitting spending on average $200 or more each on CDs, USBs, prints, and canvases. Like I’ve said before, people buy photographs for emotional reasons. The type of people who regularly visit a groomer and pay $50 plus per visit obviously love their dogs. Given the chance to purchase images from their free sitting, the dog owners couldn’t help themselves. Cost wasn’t as much of an issue because the sitting itself was free, so they felt they were getting a good deal. Within two months of Sarah signing up to my Mentoring Masterclass, her monthly turnover had increased to over $2500! Think about the partnerships you can develop for your photography corner of the universe, and remember that for it to work it must benefit both parties.












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Industry Insiders

Finding and Writing Grants for Working Artists

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How can a photographer get a grant, and what kind of photographs do you have to take? This article will explain it and give you resources to finding and writing your first grant proposal.

The images for this page are from a young professional photographer who goes by the moniker, Shiva, for his art work. His images reflect some of the core issues in photography. Like most photographers, Shiva must decide whether to sell images or find funding for these images, photo excursions, materials and more. How does an artist-photographer create an income?

Believe it: a simple Google search can be incredibly helpful. Most grants come from non-profit organizations, so pay attention to the web address; while not a hard and fast rule, more likely than not, most foundations will have a “.org” website as opposed to a “.com.” If you are unsure about a site, do your due diligence before sending information or money.          

Another excellent resource for searching grants is The Foundation Center, nonprofit which advances awareness of philanthropies around the globe. From their homepage, you can search any topic you can think of to source pre-vetted grant foundations without worrying about their legitimacy. Another such resource, Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies of which I am a founder, offers an extensive resource page where you can find open calls, residencies, and of course, grants. The page is curated regularly and I highlight a few opportunities each week.

Of course, it’s no secret that you will not get every grant you apply for, so while quality is key when submitting a grant, quantity also plays a significant role. The actual writing of a grant is an acquired skill, and over time you will become more comfortable with the process. That said, if there is one thing that can make or break your application before you are even out of the gate, it is failing to read through your grant and follow the instructions to the letter. If your grant asks for a 500-word statement explaining how your work relates to the mission statement of the foundation, do not under any circumstances fail to deliver exactly this. Be sure you know the grant inside and out and do not fail to submit exactly what you are being asked for in a timely manner. The fastest way to be out of the running is to fail to follow instructions, and every grant is different.

That being said, not every grant will be right for you. Perhaps your work simply doesn’t relate to the mission statement of the foundation offering a grant you may have found. That is okay, and it is better for you to move on than to try fitting a square peg into a round hole.

As a working artist, finding and writing grants must be part of your regular practice. You must give it some level of priority, because this is a true part of any artist’s bread and butter. Once you get started, and once you begin to feel more comfortable with the process, you will be finding and writing grants on your own, and won’t even remember why that ever seemed so overwhelming in the first place.

Brainard Carey is an artist, educator, and author. He has written three books for artists on developing their professional careers. He hosts a radio series on Yale University radio where he interviews artists, curators, and writers. He also founded Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies, which offers classes for artists to develop their careers, from finding a gallery to writing a grant.

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Focus On Marketing

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The days of meeting clients face to face are dwindling, now that social media has taken over as the number one marketing platform for growing a successful photography business. So, if social media is so hugely important, why do so many photographers continually get it wrong?


All too often, photographers don’t fully understand the concept of social media. But when you begin to explore the concept, it’s not that hard to get your head around. The clue for a start is in the name—social media.
Advertising has changed dramatically; we must no longer be set on trying to sell to our prospects, and this is where social media differs from printed press advertising. To sell on social media, you must first earn the trust of your followers. Engage with them using informative and useful content that they will like and interact with. That, quite simply, is the “social” part of social media. First build a following by earning viewers’ trust, and in return they will develop an admiration for your brand and become your loyal community of prospective customers. Once you have a loyal following, they will buy from you, review you, recommend you, and share your content with their own following of social media friends.


Now that you understand the first rule (don’t oversell) you are ready for the second: be sure to post content that is relevant to your social media audience every single day. I find it a lot easier to do this by scheduling my posts on Facebook every Monday for the full week ahead. To some photographers, that may sound like a lot of posting, but don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be strictly your original content. In fact, far from it. Try sharing other content from the Internet, but always add a few lines of your own comments above the shared article. For instance, if you are a wedding photographer, you could share someone else’s post of the latest trends in wedding table decorations or amazing ideas for themed wedding cakes, adding a few of your own suggestions.


Another great way to enhance engagement is to start a good debate on your page by asking a question. I once uploaded an image of two wedding cakes and beneath it wrote, “I’m a traditionalist myself; you can’t beat a good fruitcake at a wedding. What do you prefer, fruit or sponge?” It was surprising how much interaction this comment caused. The brides on my page were certainly passionate about their preferred style of wedding cake!
Don’t give in to the temptation to upload too many images in each post. For maximum engagement, try uploading two or three images from, say, the bridal preparation on the wedding morning, and tell a story about those images. People love stories on social media, and by tagging the bride and her bridesmaids in the photos, you’ve created an immediate audience. Tag the venue in the post along with a compliment, and again you’re creating a second generation of audience. The following day, you can upload a few more images from the same wedding, perhaps this time from the ceremony, telling another story about that part of the day. As before, tag the guests in the photos. Feed your audience with small, bite-sized chunks, and at the end of each post, you can say, “more to come tomorrow, so be sure to keep following.”


To really boost your page and website with search engines, try adding a few keywords to the bottom of your post along with your website address. For example, “fine art wedding photography New York, www.yourwebsite.com.” This way, every time your post is shared, Google recognises that as a piece of authority for your website. The more authority you receive, the higher the search engines will rank your website and social media pages.


Earlier we discussed posting relevant content on your page. Never forget who your audience is, and write for them and them alone. The second biggest mistake photographers make on social media is not posting their entire content to just one audience. Use the “Insights” tab at the top of your Facebook fan page to gain an insight as to the demographic of your current audience. To do this, select “Insights” and then navigate to the “People” tab on the left-hand side bar. Here you can find useful information about the age, gender, and locality of your audience. For example, on my own wedding photography page, I know that my audience is 92% female aged between 22-34 with the majority living in the Northeast of England.
Over the years, I’ve grown to know my audience; for instance, because of my pricing bracket I find a lot of my followers will react to posts about fine dining, country getaway breaks, or romantic holiday destinations. They are also interested in fashion and designer brands, and I can always guarantee likes and shares if I post content about pets or newborn portraiture. In contrast, commercial photography would likely be of no interest to my audience whatsoever, so why would I post it?


Should you wish to showcase your commercial or fine art photography, LinkedIn is the ideal forum to do so. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one. The more niche you can make your profile and the more targeted your audience, the greater the results you’ll achieve.


I personally work with hundreds of different clients from many industries around the world, helping them turn their marketing around and grow a large and profitable following of clients via social media. However, on LinkedIn I market my marketing and mentoring services to photographers alone. In fact, because I choose to ignore everyone else and niche my profile and content solely to marketing photography, the results have been nothing short of amazing. Each month I receive hundreds of messages from photographers who are keen to turn their business around and want to learn about my services.


To really work your magic on LinkedIn, you must be totally niche as mentioned previously. This could be great if, say, you are a wedding photographer, but you also offer commercial photography service. Keep your wedding photography on your Facebook page and build your LinkedIn profile around your commercial photography only. But you can go even deeper than that.

LinkedIn works much better when you can target a market directly. For example, if you’ve a passion for cars or a good portfolio of work based around motor dealerships, then consider photography for the motor trade and base your entire profile around this niche, and become the “go-to person” for this kind of photography. Post only content and images based around the motor industry; classic cars, motorsports, enthusiast rallies and such, and connect with as many people as you can in this market. This could be dealerships, manufacturers, race teams and sponsors. Just make sure you connect with the decision-makers, such as the MDs, managers, and business owners. You can also target enthusiasts, private collectors, and owner clubs and groups on LinkedIn as well.


To be a real success with social media, your first step is to consistently post interesting and informative content that your audience will love, always go niche and write for your audience alone and no one else. Once you’ve built up a following, analyse your audience to allow you to further refine the content you choose to share. Be sure to post daily, and only ever post one sales post for every seven to ten info posts. Build trust before trying to sell to your audience, and encourage your followers to leave five-star reviews every time they use your services.

Jeff Brown is a professional photographer and marketing consultant living in the UK. For more than 15 years, he has helped others by combining his knowledge and experience into an information-packed Skype Success Mentoring and Marketing Masterclass for photographers who are serious about turning their hobby into a success story. For more information and to learn how Jeff can help you develop a winning marketing strategy, email at info@focusonmarketing.co.uk. And for more ideas, check his LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/jeffbrownphotographymarketing.

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Social Media Isn’t So Social

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Awakening

If you haven’t been enlightened or understood the unfathomable possibility, it is time for an awakening into the most wrongfully termed two-words ever coined — Social Media. This world of communication is not social until the magical depth of engagement occurs. Until then, this act of sharing photography, films, ideas, is publishing.

Social Media is the most powerful, elastic, ever expanding, truly astonishing means of communication ever created. We are not only witnessing this change. Each of us are playing a role in the certainty of print, film and digital, all coming together into a development of its own model we have yet to comprehend. These publishing platforms — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or YouTube — are conduits of limitless possibilities. We can reach a massive readership, an audience that if you have a meaningful subscriber-ship makes the New York Times tremble.

In recent years, entire businesses that did not adapt — this includes photographers — have either vanished or became less relevant. In even greater measure, countless new photographers who never had been published through ink on paper or had their films in theaters have stepped into the space. These photographers, artists, small inventors, doers, and makers fill a potent space of communication and art, altering the economy of nearly every business on the planet, utilizing publishing conduits that have profoundly transformed how we publish.

The beautiful plate tectonic movements began in 2017 and at their inception, for those who got it, understood beyond what seemed like frivolity of Kim Kardashian’s selfies (think what you will, Kim is a publishing/marketing genius to her subscribers) or images of pets looking cute, they realized there was an economy turning in expanded directions. An eyeball engine of engagement that turned subscribers into buyers.

You may wonder why I don’t use the word, Follower. These fellow human beings are not following you. They are subscribing to what you create. They believe in you. They want to feel and be moved, enlightened by the content and messages you create. Be it images of your most powerful, poetic work, to the making of the art or products you create. Even throughout the flow of your daily life. They may seem to be following you, but they are not following anything. They want to learn, grow. Be enlightened. By you, the content creator.

In this depth of engagement, they subscribe. It’s no different than the coveted subscriber’s legacy publications have been scrambling to retain as we moved away from traditional media outlets, into the narrative journeys of content created by individuals like you.

Where It All Began

To be honest, I have no idea what was in the minds of Instagram cofounders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger when they imagined a simple means to share and publish images. Or Mark Zuckerberg, when at Harvard he created Facebook, nor the spinning minds of the four who created Twitter. They were utterly clueless what may have been seen in the periphery of the former Stanford University students who designed Snapchat in 2011.

Six years ago, is but a strand of hair on the colossus trunk of the mammoth we call social media. Some millennia of time has passed since the internet became real. The reason why none of us know where self-publishing is even going is because even these risk takers who created these publishing entities didn’t know either. No true clue of the possibilities they were unleashing.

This is due to the reality of what social media is…a vehicle of unprecedented unknowns, driven almost solely by the implausible possibilities of those who create. In fact, it is us, the user and those we engage with, the subscriber, that drives the direction of what we call social media. Why? Because this act of social media only becomes social when we engage with each other. This socializing, the act of touching, interacting with others, is when it becomes social.

Think about the functionality of this social interactivity through the the tangible…a newspaper or magazine. What we call a Like is no different than when you picked up a copy of the Washington Post, National Geographic, Vogue or Time and stopped for a moment. That pause is engagement. Where mind and spirit interact through feeling by what is seen, read and felt. The act of pausing is no different than “liking” a photograph.

But who knew that you paused? The interaction occurred in a personal space. A vacuum of time that only transpired in solitude. In the semi-distant past, publishing only became social when you were moved by a story, a film or a photograph, that you took pen to paper and wrote a letter to the publication. We never saw those countless comments mailed and delivered through the post office. Interns or the editor read these letters, choosing a select few to publish in that section aptly called, Letters to The Editor. A comment is just that…a letter to YOU, the creative, the editor and publisher.  Every comment is therefore a Letter to the Editor — you.

Let me take this even further. When someone leaves a comment, it allows for an extended, much deeper interaction than ever known. You, the publisher, has the awesome power to continue an interaction with that subscriber. This dialogue leads not only to further engagement, it can and will lead to unique forms of revenue never imagined. This moment of interaction begins the greatest manifestation. Your subscribers have entered your studio. Your store. They are engaged, getting to know you more personally, if you have a commodity to offer — as a photographer, you — this interaction turns into a revenue stream of power.

Possibilities

A dear friend of mind recently created a limited edition handmade book; an art piece that is not inexpensive. Using available publishing platforms, she sold more than 10 copies in addition to numerous other pre-orders for books yet to be printed, generating a few thousand dollars in the first week alone. In the last four years I have sold numerous prints to buyers through my Instagram publishing feed. When having time to host photo workshops around the globe, two or three posts on Facebook and Instagram sells out educational events within days. When doing lectures and book signings, publishing to my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds brings countless people to an event they would otherwise never knew existed. This expands even further…in the past two years, major companies I believe in or who’s products I use have commissioned me to publish stories and images on my publishing feeds, garnishing rates we normally receive only for major corporate assignments.

Here is the additional gift — all this publishing, marketing, these gentle kind ads for events, workshops and print sales cost $0 to advertise. The only cost was time. When beginning this wondrous, equally involving level of engagement to build your subscriber-ship, you might begin to ask yourself…” when will I see an actual return on my investment?” of the most precious commodity any human being has — that of time.

Nothing comes from nothing. You must give to receive. In the world of social media, this receiving through giving does not happen overnight. It takes time. Months. Maybe even a year or more. With love, passion, relentless doing, an organic growth turns into a domino effect of exceptional engagement with others. Buyers.

Curation

On all your publishing platforms — you need to be on all of them, create each day — curation is acutely important. Always try to avoid publishing the same content on all accounts. What works on Instagram may not work well on Twitter. If it does, reword the text, adding other pieces of enchantment to expand laterally to your subscribers. Often your subscribers connect to all your social media accounts. If you repeat or do reposts, subscribers become bored, overwhelmed by monotony.

No question, Instagram is all about the visual. Twitter is a fabulous way to republish stories you’ve read, sharing with  your subscribers the topics and issues you are deeply engaged in. Facebook is a vista of wide possibilities, be it for your photography, films you may be creating, stories or just thought. Instagram Stories, a spinning universe to the most beautiful ephemeral creation and content. On each you can and should intermix. A limitless means of communicating, all weaving a tapestry of who you are, what you create, and you truly believe in. A rounding that humanizes and expands all you are.

Keep this in mind when building and sustaining your publishing…we, our global community, want and need consistency. Brilliant work. Not the mundane. Take us places we never been or felt before. Our role as artists is being communicators. The most important giving aspect of being human.

The Future

If anyone tells you, they know what the future is in our business they will be lying. Yes, some are deeply in-tune to what is taking place, but no one has a crystal ball. Our profession today is incomprehensible to what it was twenty years ago. Turned on its head from just five years ago it, evolved in since 2016, and stretched once more since I began this article a few days ago. The real unimaginable? Within six months our business will have adapted and changed yet again. The adaptation is what we need to embrace. This embrace is the gift that has been given to all of us. What you do with it, for it, will be what determines your future. This unknown destination, the ever-changing journey, is the beauty of the unlimited.

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