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Social Media

Lesson 10 from: The Business of Commercial Photography: The Survival Guide

John Keatley

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Lesson Info

10. Social Media

Lesson Info

Social Media

So we're gonna continue on and we're gonna talk about social media as one of your marketing tools, and social media I know obviously we all probably know what that is, we know we all probably do it already, but there are some things to consider and some things that I think are really important to talk about, especially with photographers. But just on a very high level obviously, you need to go where the people are. If you're gonna share your message, do it where people can actually hear it rather than a place where it falls on deaf ears. So that's gonna mean something a little different for each of us depending on what it is that you do and who your target audience is. Which is something that we've already discussed. But social media is another great way for you to put your work out there. It's kind of a balance between like we talked about with the blog and in newsletter, newsletter you're being very direct and you're hitting a large audience but you're being direct, a blog has the ab...

ility to kind of come find you a little bit through searching. Social media is the same way. It's a place where you can create fans, people who like your work and they like to follow along with what you're doing, it's also a place where people can discover you. Maybe they didn't know you but through social media, that's a place where they can connect. Remember that quality is better than quantity. I've kinda hammered home on this a couple times in different aspects, but I really believe that it's no different in social media. If you were to go back and study my Instagram, which I'm not advocating for, I've clearly had to figure this out for myself. There's things where I started posting and I've tried all different kinds of approaches and things like that, and I would say social media is something that's been kind of a love hate relationship for me but I also think that again, it's something where photographers start to look at it really backwards. We feel like social media is kind of what's in control and we try to fit ourselves or our work into that. But ultimately I would advocate that your work is the most important thing, and that's where it needs to start. So your voice and the work that you create is what should dictate your social media strategy. We used to have a larger section on social media and I got to the point where I realized I don't wanna advocate going overboard with it. I think social media in of itself, it can be a complete time suck and it can be kind of this echo chamber where you think you're connecting and getting your work out there, but you have to remember who is your target audience? Who is gonna be paying you? And it doesn't mean that you don't have potential clients on social media, but a lot of times photographers get consumed with trying to gain followers and often times this just means other photographers. And I'm not saying that can't be a viable business, but if you're trying to be a commercial photographer, that's your goal, you need to take all this with a grain of salt and realize that social media is not everything. And then finally when you're deciding whether or not to post something, just remember just because you can post something doesn't mean that you should. The same with all the other tools that we've been discussing when you wanna post something, think about is this what I wanna be doing, is this the message that I wanna give people, is this something that I wanna perpetuate? And if it is then you can post it, if it's not you're just probably tryin' to put something up there just for quantity or what not. Now it's a whole different conversation if you are doing Instagram just for fun. But the problem is if you're a brand and I would say most of us are, or if you're considering being a photographer you are going to be a brand, you might not get the benefit or the privilege of having a personal social media account. And the reason for that is it goes back to the example I gave earlier when people say oh I'm an artist, I'm not a business person, you don't get to do that. You don't get to say oh I just use Instagram for fun, it's not for my work and stuff. We've already talked about how you are a brand. The entire experience of working with you is your brand. So if you go oh I'm just gonna do whatever I want on Instagram, it doesn't matter. A potential client is gonna look you up on Instagram and whatever they see is gonna inform their gut reaction or some part of their thinking of your brand. And if you're not taking it seriously, then that's your weakest link. And your brand really is only as strong as its weakest link, so you have to be really, really mindful of how you're behaving and what you're posting on all these social media channels. I suppose you could have a private personal account that's just for friends and family, but even then you still have to think a potential client's going to see a private account, what will that make them feel? Will they be like aw that's frustrating, I wanna see their work kinda thing. I know there's been times where I've wanted to follow someone and like maybe I didn't know 'em or something and it's private, and that feels a little frustrating. Maybe not the biggest deal in the world, but again that's effecting or influencing their gut reaction when they think about you. So you gotta take that really seriously. You don't get just to go oh I'm just not gonna take care of that you know, kind of thing. Social media is a great place to share your success. Obviously you can share your success anywhere, we've talked about that. But social media is a really great place to casually share your success with both obviously, people you know and people you don't know. I'll give you an example, there was a time maybe a few years ago when I was interviewed by the Huffington Post and it was an article on their website about my work. And it had come at a time where I had just done like two or three other interviews in that same time period and I was feeling a little self conscious 'cause I had shared those other interviews, and I felt like I was putting a lot of read this interview, listen to this interview kind of thing. And I didn't want it to become like obnoxious, or at least that was my assumption then 'cause I want my work to be the focus. And so I was like ah, I won't post this, I don't wanna make a lot of white noise kind of thing. And so then a couple weeks later a friend of mine who's also an artist, they had an interview on Huffington Post, same exact column that I was in, and for various reasons and rightfully so, they decided to share that interview everywhere. They put it on social media, and the next couple weeks because we had a lot of mutual friends everywhere I went people were like oh man, did you see so and so was on Huffington Post, it's amazing like that's so cool, that's such an awesome interview. And again, the human dark side of me was like pfft, I was on Huffington Post like why aren't you talking 'bout me, why are you just talkin' about that person? And it hit me, I didn't share, I didn't tell anybody. Like you don't get to complain that nobody knows about your article on Huffington Post, because you didn't say anything you know. No one's sitting at home Googling John Keatley every night to see, or setting up you know at Google words or whatever to see if something's mentioned on the internet. That's your job, if you feel like something's important you need to share it. You can't just kind of make excuses or assume that well I put it on Instagram so they'll see it. We've talked in a million different ways how that doesn't work, you've got to share your success if that's something that you want people to know about. And you have to repeat it across platforms. It's not enough to just put it on one place. And again, on social media kind of in line with what we talked about, who's your target audience? Are you trying to build followers with photographers or you trying to create work that's gonna attract advertising clients or editorial clients? You've gotta make sure that your social media strategy aligns with your business goals, and your goals as an artist. Don't be trying to do one thing in this direction and then something else in the other, you've gotta combine all these and make sure that they're lined up. Social media can be a huge time suck, you know again there's all these articles about best practices for social media and stuff, and we used to kind of get into it a little bit, that with our workshop. But it's a full time job for people in companies to run social media, like it's a full time job. And I think as photographers it's not our job to be running best practices on social media, because a company like a big brand with multiple employees or something that sells a product, their goal with social media is to engage potential customers and that's kind of a big, big part of their advertising strategy. For us, it's a small part. Unless again you can break this rule that I'm telling you, but you need to have a reason and a strategy for doing it. And then finally you know followers, I hear people say well you know you need, you get jobs if you have more followers. I've had a couple situations where we maybe didn't get a job because someone else had more followers, that has happened, but it doesn't happen that often. And I still believe that the type of work that I wanna be doing, the most important thing is the work and the person who's creating it, not the followers. There are jobs that are like smaller jobs where the followers are important, but again we talked earlier about like what if you have seasonal work and different kinds of things? Those jobs are gonna be a bit limiting, there's a ceiling there if you're really concerned if the client's really concerned with followers. You're not gonna be able to move past that. But all that being said, followers will come when your voice is unique and compelling. It's kind of like golf in that sense, if you play golf like if someone just told you what's the goal here? Well the goal is to hit the ball as far as possible you know 400 yards down there onto that green, you'll probably have to hit it a couple more times. So if you hear that you think alright, I just need to what, hit the ball as hard as possible. But in golf if you actually swing as hard as possible, that's really the worst thing you can do. It will go not as far and it will go you know, off to the side. You actually wanna swing as light as possible and the ball will go straight and further, and it's the same kind of thing with social media and marketing. When you try really hard and you over swing, you're not gonna really reach anybody. It's gonna come across as desperate, and your goal is off. You're trying to get followers, let followers come as they come. And probably it's one of those things, when you care the least because you're working so hard and that's what's most important, then you'll actually have more than you probably ever hoped for, if that actually matters to you.

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Ratings and Reviews

Bonnie Aunchman

John & Creative Live - Thank you - Best. Class. Ever.! This is a GREAT class! If you are a photographer, this is definitely a MUST GET class, but even if you work with photographers as part of a creative team - you have to take this class. (I'm a Photo Stylist) John covers it ALL in this class - it really, truly is a Survival (Success) Guide. John is so detailed, honest, and generous in his knowledge/experience/wisdom in the commercial photography industry in helping you understand the business and really succeed (& stand out). When I see that John is teaching a class on Creative Live - I'm in! (I have his other valuable courses as well)

a Creativelive Student

I was lucky to be part of the studio audience for this course. John is an awesome teacher and did an outstanding job of making sense of a very difficult side of photography for a creative to understand. He shared his 18+ years of experience, including the good and bad he has gone through. The "special guests" alone are worth the cost of this class. John has an amazing team working beside him behind the scenes. Their perspective on his business was priceless!

Joseph Brewster

John gave an enormous amount of insight and practical advice in this comprehensive course. I really enjoyed a course focused more on commercial and editorial rather than wedding and family, which is more common. Great info and great work all around!

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