Marketing your Photography Business Online Part 1
So marketing, marketing today in general is customer driven, not company driven. What that means is the traditional look at marketing was: "Blah, blah blah, here it is, all about my company, "here's why I'm great, blah, blah, blah, "hire me, buy my stuff because it's so amazing." Right? That was typically how you marketed. Today it's different. Marketing is about the customer. What do they want? What do they wanna hear? What do they need? What are they feeling? How can you connect with them, draw them to you? Right, it's about the customer. So just keep that in the back of your mind when you're thinking about your marketing materials. Are you just blah, blah, blah about you, or are you telling them something they actually wanna hear? Okay? There's a big difference there. Let's start with the most obvious, a site! For those of you that are just beginning, or thinking about getting into this, you may say, well, I get this question a lot, "Is a Facebook business page enough as a photograp...
her? "Should I have a website, should I have a blog, "should I have all of the above?" The answer is yes. (laughs) It can be. You can, I have seen photographers do great with just the Facebook business page, if it's done right. You really do it a beautiful page, and you put all the right elements in place, and you really focus all your marketing efforts there. Facebook is a powerful, powerful marketing avenue right now, we can't ignore it for sure. As much as it's also a time-suck to be on Facebook, if you use it for business it can be very effective. So, yes you should have a Facebook business page. Boom, plain and simple. It should not co-mingle with your personal page. In other words, your personal page you can't say, "Well I'll just make that into my business page." Number one, the old school thing I'm not sure if Facebook's rules have changed slightly, but the personal page had a limited number of friends you could have. Which is 5,000. And, I would hit that, and I'd drop friends, and add friends, and so I'm always hovering with that 5,000 on my personal page because I started off before they even had business pages, and everybody came to my personal page, and all of a sudden I had over 5,000. I couldn't even take more people, and it was weird. Then they added this when you can like a page, you don't actually have to be a friend. Then they added business pages, and all that. So, it's evolved. So the way to do it now if you're starting out, or you haven't been in it too long is make sure you have a business page going. Okay? So everybody has one of those, Facebook business page? Some, some, okay. It'll be a good idea even if you are not quite at that point where you wanna really jump into it, to, just like with a website, your name, to reserve that URL, to reserve the Facebook page that you want 'cause you can actually get the forward slash whatever you want. Like mine is Kevin Kubota Photographer. And so I, as soon as I knew I can do that I reserved it, whether I was ready to jump on it or not, so somebody else didn't take it. Unfortunately, I had people who tried to take my name and use it because I've already established the name. So I've had other people create a site based around my name, and they're not even me, and they don't even have my name, they're different people altogether. So, grab your name, whatever your site, while you can, even if you're not quite ready to commit to it. Blog. I think blogs are great. I'm kinda mixed in that. If you have a blog already, and you've been working it, you got a good following, you kinda wanna maintain it, and you certainly can use a blog site as your main point of reference, but you probably will still need a Facebook page. And if you really, really work the Facebook page, it almost serves like a blog, in a sense, if you use your Facebook page properly. A blog is nice in that it does give you a little more control over the presentation, the way you show images, and the stories the way you tell them. So, I think it's kind of a good idea if you can maintain both. But the key here, jumping to the bottom, is be consistent. One of the things I do see a lot of times reviewing photographers' sites and things is that they'll have one site that they started that's still there, it's still out there, but there's old stuff on it, it's outdated, they don't even keep it relevant anymore. And you go to another site, and then they've got all kind of nice stuff over here. But if I was searching, I might see either one of those, and I might jump on the wrong one first, and look and like "Oh, this is old and bad," you know, "next" go to the next photographer. So if it's out there, make it good. If you're not going to any effort into it, pull it off. Don't put, 'cause somebody's gonna search. Remember, that's how people find you is Google search, and if that thing comes up, and they happen to click on the old site versus your new site, or the site you don't maintain, that's what they see, and then done deal, that's it. Right? So, be consistent. If you have it out there, maintain it. Same with the website. I've got all three, only because I've, I've been in this a long time, so I had a website before I had a blog, before I had a Facebook page, and I maintain them all. And that's just more work, but that's the way it is.
Do you do it yourself?
No, well the writing I do myself. So articles, all the articles I write myself for my blog. The website really doesn't take too much maintenance other than once in a while we update the images on there, my photography website. The designing of all that I have a designer that helps me with all that. Designer did all my website, my personal website, my blog, I had some help with the design on that as well. Okay. So you can have all of the above. I think, these are kind of in the order of importance as far as marketing these days, only because Facebook is such a powerful, for most of what we're doing, portraiture, marketing to that middle range clientele, they're on Facebook. Now if you're marketing and you're really young, seniors, kids, they don't give a crap about about Facebook, you know. They're on Snapchat and Instagram, young kids, seniors. So the senior market is a whole different thing, and we're gonna talk a little bit about that too. But, most of us who we're marketing to is the moms, as portrait photographers, wedding photographers, Facebook is still going to be important, okay? So, if you gotta pick one, start at the top and work your way down. And a lot of people say the opposite. They say, "Hey, you gotta have a website first of all." And that's certainly okay, but from a marketing perspective, Facebook really is gonna reach more people, more often, on a daily basis, if you do it right. So, as much as I don't like the whole idea of relying on Facebook, because it doesn't give you a whole lot of design control and all that. But, it is effective. Okay? So, some essentials of good site presence. You know we were talking and looking at Yanina's website. These are some of the things that popped up in that review, as well. So it's obvious who you're selling to. So when they come to that site, they should know, "Am I a customer for this site, or not," pretty quick. Okay, it could be in the images that you show, initially. Boom, the first images that pop up, it could be in the words that you use, a description for your site. One of the things that we didn't get to on Yanina's, was there wasn't any real descriptives on the homepage which may affect her search ratings. 'Cause she really didn't have anything that described what she did, other than in her logo photo stories. I don't know if we scrolled down all the way. Find some other things like that.
Am I allowed to say who I used for that? Because search engine optimization, I use SmugMug. So when you build the website through them, it's basically a template, that you adjust the search engine optimization, the keywords, they go in a hidden document, that the search engines are magically suppose to pull out somehow. And I suppose, if I tried to sit there for a long time to try to figure it out, there would be a way to put copy onto an individual page. But I didn't see that naturally, so, yeah.
All right, and that's a good point to bring up because back in the day, that was true that you could put all your search terms in hidden keywords, but the search engines are smarter these days, so you can't just spam your page with hidden keywords, you have to have some real context on the page to really get ranked on the search engines. Yes, so they have to be able to see something pertinent on your homepage in real text, otherwise the search engines think you're just spamming with keywords and they won't even index you anymore. So make that something you want to focus on too. Obvious what you're selling. So, Yanina's photo stories, I'm not picking on you, Yanina, we're just using it because everybody can relate to that, we looked at that, you guys look at your own. But is it very obvious what you are selling? I think it was pretty obvious what she was selling. She was selling beautiful portraiture, but exactly to who, you know? She had some pictures of young senior kids and yet the main images on her page that she wants to focus on are of beautiful women, or of women that she can make beautiful which is something that we want to think about in her branding. How does she communicate, "I can make you beautiful." We're going to keep thinking about that I think all day long. So what are you selling? You're selling the fact that "I can make you feel beautiful as a woman." Is that communicated on the homepage within a few seconds? On her page, I don't think it completely was communicated, although I did see pictures of beautiful women, but I wasn't sure that she was going to take me, an ugly man, and make me a beautiful woman. (Yanina laughs) Which is what I want to know right, 'cause if she can make me look like a beautiful woman, I'm sold, I'm gonna go.
I'll bring my makeup artist tomorrow. (laughing)
Great logo and design, whether it's on Facebook or your own site that you have control of. You gotta have a great logo up there and a good design. There's only so much you can do with Facebook, but there's still, the header image, you can make it nice and clean, everything else, you can have your logo in the header image, you can design that header however you want, so take advantage of that. This is another thing I find with a lot of, mostly starting out photographers, but they're kind of struggling to get enough images to put in a portfolio, so they put whatever they have. And that's kind of okay, but there's also a downside to that is if you put an inconsistency, and we saw a little bit of that in Yanina's, a little bit of inconsistency where some images were dynamite and some were just okay. Most were dynamite, a couple were okay. So that kind of tips the scales in her consistency realm, you know, whether she really is consistent. So I would say, I would prefer to see, if nothing else, if you only had 10 fantastic images to your portfolio, to your name right now, then put 10 images on your site and just go with that. And I know this works because when I started selling weddings, I had one wedding album, I had shot one wedding, my friend's wedding, and I wanted to be a wedding photographer. And I freaked out because I had, somebody called me, and said, "I'm gonna come see you "about wedding photography," and I had one album to show them and that's it! And I was like, what am I going to do when they say, "Can I see another album?" "No." (audience laughs) (laughs) "I'm not gonna show you, no." And I really had to suck it up and all I did was just focus on that one album and I focused on conversation and steering it, and as soon as, seriously I'm sitting there showing them and as soon as I look in their face like they're getting ready to ask, "Can I see more," I'd be like, "So tell me about your wedding! "Tell me about your dress! "Tell me about your shoes, tell me about your dog!" You know, "What do you like to do on the weekends? "Do you like my hair? "How do you like that picture on the wall?" I kept trying to drive that conversation until finally they're like, they forgot they were going to ask for more images, and I would work that until I had, then I had two albums to show on the next thing, but instead of showing one album that I shot and then a bunch of pictures of my kids or my dog and other stuff just to fill in the space, I just said, okay, boom, I got one fantastic album, it may be the only album I got, but that's what I got. I'm gonna show it, I'm gonna show only good stuff. And it worked. I steered them away, I had a few people who were like, "I really would like to see more." And I would say, "Oh, yeah I don't have any more. "This is it." But that's the way it goes. But I thought that that worked a lot more effectively than a lot of photographers' sites that I look at and they've got, you know, half of them are amazing and then half of them are like, what? Why are these even in here? Make a statement with your work. Make a statement. Yay, Yanina, friendly, approachable photo of you, she did that fantastically on her site. Really kind of avoiding, this is on Facebook primarily, people with a picture of their cat as their profile picture. Really? I'm hiring your cat? All right. Pictures of you hiding behind cameras, half of your face behind a camera, it's very artsy, I must say, but it's ridiculous. Come on. Show you, your personality. This is about, I want to see you and hire you. I don't want to see how you are so artsy that you can hide behind a camera, you know, half in your face and one eye's going this way, one eye's going that way or whatever. Come on, show me you. And the quality of your portrait needs to be of the quality that you're trying to sell your clients on, all right? So don't have like a little selfie of like, "Hey, here's me." And then I want to sell you on high-end portraiture at the same time. (audience laughs) That doesn't work. But you'll be surprised how often you see that. Go look at all the photographers' websites and look at how bad their portraits are, and then they want you to hire them to do their portrait, you know? A personality page, this is what, Yanina had a really nice one. It needed a little bit of working on the paragraph to make it more personal. One thing that you could do, Yanina, is a video. This is an example, one of the photographers that came to one of my workshops, he created this video after the workshop and I think he did a great job on it. If you get a chance to go look at this, his name is Jacob. He just moved to Hawaii, wants to do destination wedding photography, but he's got this, just this great, fun, personality and he did this nice little video that's just his personal statement: "Here's who I am, here's why I love photography." And it's a good example of what you want to convey, 'cause the message is, he's just like a super nice, friendly guy. I want to hire him. It's not like he's telling me what kind of camera, sorry, he's using or anything like that. He's just saying, "Here's what I love about photography. "Here's why I want to work with you. "Here's some kind of funny things about me," and like that, and a video is very effective. This day and age, people love videos, right? You guys know that, everybody watches videos, you want to see videos. Put that on your Facebook page, get that out there, that's something you can upload and post my about me video. "Hey everybody, check it out, I just finished this video. "Breaking news," you know, whatever you're going to do to get that out there. But consider that. It doesn't need to be long, one minute maybe tops, a minute and a half. I think Jacob's is pushing two minutes, but it's still really cute. You can check it out. But that brings me so much closer, I mean so much closer to booking. Once I see that video, I think you have a good presence. As, face to face.
KGB training, see, this is good. (laughs) So you could convey that in a video, probably pretty nicely if you're comfortable in front of the camera, and again, I think for you, I'm picking on you, but other people too, make use of like your accent. It makes you feel exotic, you know, I think that's a cool thing to play on in your designer brand and all that. I think seeing that in a video would be even cuter, I think, I think her accent's cute, I think it's kind of sexy, you know, her whole thing like that, so why not play on that, use it, don't be afraid of it. If you've got something else that you think is, if you're really, really uncomfortable in front of the camera and it's gonna take some work. I don't know. I always think I look really weird on camera, so it's strange that I do all these things on camera, but I can't ever watch myself back, because I'm like, "Ew, I look so weird. "My nose is crooked, everything is crooked on my face." I don't know. Now you guys are all looking at my nose. But I still got to do it. Now that I mention it, right, you're like, "Oh, he is pretty crooked." (laughing) But have somebody else who is really good at making videos do it, 'cause they'll know how to make you look your best just like you know how to make people look good in a photograph. Have other people coach you. Hire a company to produce this video. It's gonna be a little bit expensive, but it could be really worth it. Okay?
Can you Photoshop videos?
It'll take a lot of work, but yes, you could. (laughs) All right, and then of course, that everything on your site works and there's no typos. Really important too. Make sure it's clean and that there's no reason for them to think you are not putting every attention to detail that you can. Right? Okay. So let's talk about some other social sources. People always ask about LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. They can be effective, yes. I'm generalizing here, LinkedIn is more of a networking, so you don't want to do any hard sell, you don't want to treat it like Facebook and posting specials and all this kind of stuff on there all the time. It's really more of a networking thing with an occasional throw in a, "Hey, "business portraits are available if you want them," or something like that. There's a way to use it. I'm not big into LinkedIn just because I just haven't had the bandwidth to put myself in another category, so I'm not the expert on LinkedIn but I do know that much, that it's not a hard sell place, it's not like you can just throw up ads for your business all the time, you need to really use it as a networking, helping tool, connecting tool for other business people. Instagram is great for the younger generation from teenagers on up to kind of middle, 20, 30, I find that's sort of the target, the biggest market for Instagram. Very, very powerful. You know, most kids like in the school they don't even use Facebook at all, so if you're shooting seniors, that's a great channel for connecting with seniors. One of my friends and one of my, she used to be my assistant, Alycia White, if you get a chance, Alycia White Photography she's in Redmond, Oregon, she does beautiful senior work and that's her focus. We were talking about it earlier. She focuses on senior girls, that's her target market. She still photographs guys, she still does families, but senior girls is her target. She does a really great job of using Instagram in the schools, getting kids to Instagram and share her Instagram and get that message out, and she really is awesome with her Instagram. Can't remember what her Instagram handle is, you can check it out, but if you search for Alycia White Photography you'll probably find her on Instagram, and see how she's using that Instagram and what she does. She posts a picture, almost daily, one of her senior photos, with a really cool little quote or a story or something, so it's not the pandering, "Oh my God, I love Sally, she was the funnest senior ever!" (audience laughs) You said this about the last 47 people you photographed. It's always something unique, a little quote or something inspirational that she tags to that and puts it in there and I think that's really cool. Twitter. Personally I think Twitter's kind of (blows raspberry) out of there. Sorry if Twitter is out there listening, I don't know where you guys are, but it's just, unfortunately it's just filled with spam and junk nowadays, you know, so I don't know if it's really that effective anymore. I'm not really, I have a Twitter account and honestly I don't pay any attention to it 'cause I don't think it's that effective. It's too much spam. Snapchat, I've got to admit, I don't have a Snapchat, I have no idea how to use Snapchat. (audience laughs) But I know my kids love it and use it and I've read and learned a lot about marketing through Snapchat, it can be very effective like Instagram if you're really targeting the senior market. Senior meaning kids, not senior citizens. They don't know Snapchat. (audience laughs) One of the surveys I read too that it was mostly a female audience, and this is the age range, from teens to the early 30s is kind of the target, female audience for Snapchat. So, that would fit teenage seniors, if you're focusing on that, for sure.