#TravelTuesday at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider means one thing: I’m here! I’m Dave Williams, a travel photographer and writer from the UK. I like long walks, I can spin a pen around my thumb, I can partially dislocate my jaw to fit more food in my face, and I have a disturbingly good memory for anything I’m told except for your name! Enough about me, though. Let’s talk about self-promotion online!
There’s a fine line in the creative industry when it comes to self-promotion, particularly with respect to social media. It kind of relates to giving away too much, such as with pricing. A lot of people who find us on social media and online searches will be looking for prices because projects are more often than not determined by budget rather than the actual content. It’s from this, of course, that the photographer, in particular, wants to respond to the question, “How much is it?” with, “What’s your budget?”
Here’s the thing, though: even with a budget-driven approach, that content and its quality is usually the first thing noticed in either case. It’s important, therefore, to focus properly on marketing, social media, and the larger umbrella of “shameless self-promotion.”
Getting that right is tricky. It brings to mind a little nugget of wisdom I was told by Glyn Dewis a few years ago. He said to me, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take what you do seriously.” It makes me think of being at school and being told that nobody likes a show-off!
Striking a balance between what is productive and what is destructive is the trick. It’s certainly true that engagement leads to reciprocated engagement, but you have to give people something to engage with if that’s the aim. It’s also true to say that you don’t always need to post something positive to get that engagement. In fact, being overly positive can potentially lead to destructive consequences and criticism. The thing is, people like to feel like they know something. If you feed information, it can be positive and be shared, which means you yourself are being shared. Also worth noting is that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. Leading on from people liking to feel like they know something if you make a simple mistake, the swathe of people wanting to point it out and correct it will, itself, drive engagement to the post.
There are some pretty stubborn people out there using their social media to observe rather than promote, and to those people, I say this: There is always going to be someone out there working harder than you and there is always going to be someone out there better than you. If you’re the one standing out from the crowd on social media or blogs, you’re the one who’s going to get the next gig because you’ve made yourself noticed. The risk of being told something you don’t like isn’t something worth considering. If you stand out, you face being criticised as a result of having yourself and your work examined by an army of keyboard warriors, but that risk is negligible against the potential gains. In this industry, we face challenges and this is just one of them. Marketing yourself effectively and efficiently is an art. Your knowledge, art, brand, experience, and YOU are things you should be marketing to grab that next client or agency, and with a little practice and a little commitment this shameless self-promotion will pay off.
- Team up on Instagram and provide content for larger accounts—paid or unpaid, it leads to engagement, which leads to cold, hard, cash! I’ve done Instagram takeovers and projects with KelbyOne, Platypod, Lonely Planet, Extreme Iceland, and a few others. It ALWAYS generates something.
- Show people behind the scenes. It gives away some of the secrets, and people absolutely love that!
- Write for blogs to get your name spread further. There are plenty of blogs, particularly those of the products you use, who are willing to feature a good story if you just dig around a little and find the right person to send it to.
- Tag accounts relevant to a social media post. For example, tag a product you used to take the shot or the location in which you made the image. Get their attention!
A behind the scenes shot can be anything from a complex look at a studio setup explaining the whats, wheres, and whys, or it can simply be a selfie with an albino kangaroo you’d been shooting just outside of Melbourne, Australia! People love to talk about themselves, and other people love to hear about it! There’s a reason selfies are such a big deal!
You may be the world’s best photographer, but you won’t be getting work if nobody can see just how amazing you are. Generally, we create our work out of a passion for our art rather than a thirst for profit, and that is sometimes what hinders this selfless self-promotion we need to be getting involved with. Work out which platforms you want to be using, be it Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, 500px, Flickr, LinkedIn, Google+, whichever, and start being consistent with it. Work out when your followers are more likely to engage, and give them something to engage with. Put your marketing hat on and sell yourself. Show people behind the scenes. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll thank me. ;)