How to Promote Your Photography + Increase Your Following
It’s a case of the old philosophical question: If a tree falls in a forest + no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Or translated for photography: If you take the most beautiful photographs to ever exist, but no one ever sees them, does it even matter?
Being a skilled photographer is not only about taking great photographs -- you also need to get those photographs in front of an audience to truly give them life.
The photograph/audience relationship is an important part of the process.
Before the digital age, you pretty much had to get into a gallery or a major magazine if you wanted your work to be seen.
If you didn’t have the skill, connections and luck (mostly luck) to get featured, then your work was virtually invisible to the world.
Fortunately, the world of publishing and self-promotion has changed.
There are plenty of options for self-publishing your work these days.
Most of them are simple, inexpensive and only require a bit of effort.
So, if you want your photography seen by more people, you should be promoting them in the following ways:
If you want to build an audience then you NEED to have a personal website or blog.
A website/blog will give you full control over what, when and how you want to publish your work.
This is an asset that YOU will own, giving YOU full control over how YOU want website users to engage with your photography.
As your photography career grows, a personal website/blog will give you more control over monetizing your photography -- for example, if you want to sell digital print downloads or advertise your photography services.
As your website/blog grows, there will also be an opportunity to leverage the size of your online presence against what you think your price is worth.
Two equally skilled photographers come to you.
The first photographer has no website or blog to showcase his work.
The second photographer has a website with a following of 200K people a month.
Who are you more likely to trust?
Social Media Networks
This is a no-brainer. Facebook has 2B+ users, Instagram has 800M+ users, Snapchat has 250M+ users...need I continue.
Instead of lecturing you on why you should be posting your photography to social media regularly, I’m just going to make a list of the most popular social media channels + leave you with a bit of advice:
“Sign up for every free social media channel that you can.
Although there will be some crossover between the channels that users are on, there are still tons of people unique to one social media channel that aren’t necessarily using another.
For example, the Instagram user who can’t be bothered with Snapchat.”
Make sure that you’re on these platforms at the very least:
Create an official fan page or business page for these platforms.
You’ll get access to more robust analytics about your audience and engagement.
You’ll also be able to create ads + build a more official presence.
Create a calendar for posting your content regularly.
If your goal is to post content twice a week, then stick to that goal. Just be consistent!
Email newsletters are great for publishing your work because you’re engaging with an audience who has already invested in your brand (somewhat).
Use your website + social media channels to create email subscriber lists (don’t just randomly spam your friends and don’t buy lists).
Then, use a free email marketing service -- like Mailchimp -- to send out email blasts with your content to your subscribers.
I highly recommend creating teaser emails.
These are emails where you’ll feature ‘teasers’ of your photography, but ultimately will push your email subscribers to visit your website for access to your full portfolio.
Remember that email lists lose subscribers regularly; it’s just a part of the email marketing game.
You’ll need to actively work on growing your email lists, but it will be well worth it once you grow your audience significantly.
Photo Sharing Website
Photo sharing websites (also known as online galleries, open source image networks, or stock photo networks) are great for getting your work to share itself.
These photo sharing websites are where companies and designers go for stock photos for various subjects.
In many cases, they are looking for free photos with a creative common license, allowing them to use and share the photo (sometimes for commercial purposes).
Whether you want to submit free photography for others to use (sometimes commercially) is a question that you have to ask yourself.
Just know that sometimes the publicity is worth more than what you’d get for the print.
Also, you still get acknowledged as the original owner of the photo.
Free options -- like Flickr -- provide tons of space for your gallery (1 TB in Flickr’s case!) and even offer a social networking aspect where people can join groups on techniques, brands and subjects.
Users can also like + comment on each other’s photography, which is good feedback if you want to improve your craft.
Here are a few other options:
Traditional media isn’t completely dead yet.
Even though the internet has almost completely engulfed our society, newsletters, galleries, postcards, flyers and other forms of print still have a huge presence.
These objects provide a physical presence for sharing your photography and can serve as very strong branding tools as well.
Consider the person who has your photo on their favorite keyring, and what they have to see every time they open or close their front door.
If you get really creative, you can fit context and subject in order to really promote your photography -- passing out flyers of your last wedding shoot outside of an engagement ring store for example.
Here are some you some ideas to get started with:
GET STARTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY TODAY!
Getting started in photography can be a rough ride. Fortunately, you have a guide like this to light your way. But reading only gets you so far; you need to be out in the field shooting, finding out what you like, and how to replicate it as much as possible. Every photographer started out where you are: using the Auto setting and taking pictures of their cats. Will you become the next Ansel Adams? Who knows. Only you can make that happen through your dedication to growing a potential business and your love for the art. Happy shooting!