Where to grow your business as a photographer: site or social media?

We live in a world where speed (seems) to be everything. FOMO (fear of missing out) is increasing and conquering people’s mental space. At a scroll you’re out of the radar. You need to constantly push the publish button to stay there. But is this approach sustainable or efficient? My bet is that no, it is not, and there are better alternatives.

June 25, 2019
Reading time 9 – 14 minutes

More and more creative entrepreneurs feel the pressure of showcasing their work in the digital landscape. To let people know about what they do, the process behind the scene, how they craft their ideas, through loads of content distributed on social media mostly, but also on their website.

The stress is so high that they no longer have the courage to stop this crazy rhythm to catch their breath and reconsider. If they do so, it feels like constantly losing by being one lap late, and that leads them to anxiety and frustration.

I genuinely believe there’s another gateway to survive as a freelance photographer, for instance. Maybe there are different tactics to attract the right customers. Maybe there’s a real yet easy to implement solution to keep being relevant without losing all your time, energy, and focus on What’s on your mind, Oana?

Ready to leave behind the hectic and move towards a more balanced attitude and lifestyle?

Website and social media, not versus

Stable relationships, reliable work, substantial projects lie in long-term thinking because, guess what, they require hard work. The overnight success statement is a myth.

If you choose to run like a mouse on a wheel spun by others, you will attract experiences that are superficial, full of flaws of all kinds, and quite exhausting to be honest.

On the other hand, if you have the gut to re-establish your own pace and adjust the dynamic accordingly, you have so much to win in every aspect of your life, both personal and professional.

When it comes to photography, no matter if you’re a solopreneur (one-man-or-woman project) or you represent a bigger company, I encourage you to think in different terms. Your terms.

Being sexy and clickable on Facebook might work for a while, and it will fill your instant gratitude reservoir, but to build a sustainable business, you should think about strategies that are less ephemeral.

Next, I will walk you through some reliable yet documented arguments concerning why you should seriously consider investing in your website as a photographer in order to promote your portfolio and reach new audiences that match your unique vision.

In the end, you’re an artist who aims to showcase the work to people who resonate and are open to enter your universe and its emotion, right?

In the last couple of years, I’ve done dozens of interviews with people all over the world who make a living out of their creative potential. So I had the chance to discover a wide range of tactics you can approach to reach the right target for what you plan to achieve.

In the following lines, I will let you know why creating a website is, by far, the best method you can use to level up your business while maintaining your health sane.

Start making decisions aligned with your beliefs

First of all, let me put it crystal clear that this is not a manifesto against social platforms.

I used them heavily as a copywriter freelancer both to be in touch with relevant people and promote my projects and initiatives, so I’m not naive nor eager to bring image damages to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and the rest of the gang.

As always, it’s up to you how you choose to explore these platforms. My desire is offer a different perspective on how to swim in this challenging digital ocean so that you can survivee, but also enjoy the landscape.

I don’t believe that as a photographer you should make a decision between website and social media. Not at all. Instead, what I suggest is to understand which one fits which purpose.

Only then you are able to draw the best conclusion. But let’s take it one at a time.

I know that it’s hard for you to navigate through everything you have to do to keep your head above the water. From answering e-mails, preparing offers, negotiating fees, editing photos, sending previews, publishing content, answering calls, all the way to keeping track with what’s new in your industry, you cover them all.

And hell it’s hard. And confusing. It drains your energy and often you wish it would be a bit easier.

The good news it that you have the power to change how you want to shape your path as a photographer and automatically how to live your life.

Second of all, I’m aware that having so much on your table makes you enter a zone where checking boxes becomes the norm. You just want to finish that huge lists of tasks before 2 am and go to bed.

To have a normal life, right? To rest and be able to have the courage to show up again next day, and get the job done in the best possible way. You don’t want to throw crappy work out there, you want to make it shine.

I believe that you can start refining your approach by choosing what to do as well as what you are not willing to do anymore. When it comes to your brand and overall business, you can make a clean cut right from the start.

For instance, I genuinely suggest you to invest resources in crafting and maintaining your website relevant and up to date in the long run. This is where you have the full control of the experience you are providing to your community.

You can walk them through a digital path that they will love or hate. You can transform them into believers and ambassadors who brag about your work, or you can instigate them to share nasty messages out into the world.

The simple fact that you have the freedom to shape and pack everything in a way that resonates with who you are is already an essential tipping point that opens a full range of opportunities.

The role of the website for your evolution

The thing is that having a website is similar to owning a house. When you invite people over you would like them to feel comfortable, welcomed, maybe even joyful that you opened the door for them.

The same should apply when it comes to your digital crib.

People who land there have an authentic interest to discover more about who you are, what makes you, you, what’s your vision as a photographer, what do your customer say about the collaboration, how they can reach you to get in touch, and so on.

It might sound like the obvious, but believe me that most often, people miss it exactly because it’s in their face, so they take it for granted.

Therefore, your website is not just another URL, it is part of your digital identity, and it should look and work accordingly. Let me share with you a few central insights why this is crucial because it impacts how things will roll for your career:

Katerina captured by Oana (I guess this is what happens when a mentor-mentee relationship really works)

1 — You offer an experience

A solid yet design-driven website is the place where you direct people (potential clients) to have a first contact with you, your work, your statement. No matter if they reach you through social media channels, you need to level up and direct them to your website to get the full pic of your photography work.

There’re no doubt that people will try to find all kinds of shortcuts and ping you on whatever media they have at hand, but that doesn’t mean that you need to play their game. You want to do business, not just add new friends on Facebook, right?

Stick to your interests because it’s the best approach to start building balanced professional relationships that will last in the long run.

2 — You qualify leads

By encouraging people to follow a certain digital path to get in touch, you not only bring a lot of clarity along the way, but you also start qualifying leads in a way that makes sense for you.

By qualifying leads, I mean filtering people so that you give your best chances to attract the right clients, not everyone willing to pay you some bucks.

You already know that there are tons of people who are just curious and ask a bunch of questions because it’s super easy to do and requires almost no effort from their side. However, they do not have a keen interest to close a deal with you; they’re just fishing around.

Therefore, if you’re saying “yes” to everyone and start running after money, they will catch you on the wrong feet. Once you invest in folks who have different beliefs, you will definitely make an entire chain of compromises that will damage your work and the overall personal brand.

3 — You create a community

I know no creative who doesn’t want to belong to a tribe. This need is so heavily rooted in who we are as persons, that we all need to be part of a community at a certain point.

If you put your website at the forefront of what you’re doing, people will start feeling like there’s more to discover. There’s also valuable knowledge published on your website, bold ideas about how to become a better photographer, proof of authenticity regarding the fears you face at the moment, or simply thoughts about side projects that you’d like to give it a try at some point.

Once you put yourself out there you also make an invitation to a constructive dialogue where people who appreciate your work can contribute in a meaningful way.

How to leverage social media on your terms

As I previously said, social media per se is nor good or bad, it’s up to you how you choose to build a relationship with these platforms.

What you need to keep in mind is that you can always change the way you are embracing them depending on the moment in life you are and how your values evolved along the way.

As a communicator with 10 years of experience, I’ve been noticing that creatives push themselves to be present on way too many channels, forgetting that more is not better. On the contrary, it often equals poor outcomes.

What I suggest to do with social media as a photographer who wants to make money out of this passion is to make a few steps aside and think more about who you truly are.

If you’re an introvert, super shy, and in love with solitude, then maybe it’s okay to be active only on one platform instead of five. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you feel super comfortable to mingle between audiences and social channels, go with two pipelines.

No matter where you sit on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, there’s no doubt that by covering more media you will dilute your message. You can’t simply be fully present in multiple places at onces.

Here are a few tips about how to make peace with social media and wisely use:

  1. Set a clear goal — what do you want to accomplish through your Facebook page, Instagram account, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on?
  2. Write down your motivation for being active on each one — what gives you energy to post on each channel, what do you do different from one to another?
  3. Put together a content calendar — once you’re confident with the why, start playing with content ideas that you want to publish on social media (do you plan to share only photos with the couples who are getting married, do you want to share articles that are relevant for your career, do you aim to be a bit more personal?)

These three points might seem like an easy thing to do, but if you’re truly honest with yourself and open to ask the hard questions, you will see that some pieces from the puzzle do not fit entirely.

Be gentle with yourself and take the time you need to put them in order in a way that makes sense for you. In the end, there’s no recipe written in stone that you should follow.

No matter how you choose to balance the effort between all these platforms, don’t forget that slowing down is always a good idea, especially because you are a photographer aka an artist.

You need space and time for wondering, for solitude, for signing out to spend more time in a way that fuels your energy and creativity. No great idea popped by speeding up everything.

I am here to help you make it happen on your terms, not just throwing out advice and acting like a teacher who has the answers.

The truth is that I learn so much from the brilliant conversations I have with the awesome photographers around me, and thanks to them I can reach this level of depth and authenticity within my writing.

However, I want to go the extra mile and make a step further by lending a hand with building your photography website.

Take a look over our portfolio of WordPress themes designed with your needs in mind, and if any of them seem like the right fit, just write me down at [email protected] and I will be your comrade in shaping a lovely digital experience that people will love and remember. Stay true!

P.S. I take proud in using a photo of Katerina, a local passionate photographer, where she captured another fellow who I admire: Oana. She’s the one featured in the image of this article. Thank you!

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