Do you ever feel like you're a little fish in a big pond? I know I do. There are 1000 registered photographers in my area alone. I could feel really small and insignificant sometimes.
I especially feel this way since I didn't go to school for photography or business and I'm trying to make my way as much as I can. I can definitely get depressed seeing other people's work and comparing myself to them. I look at the likes on their Facebook page and think "I'll never get there." I look at their pricing and I think, "I wish I could charge that much."
"One day..." I tell myself "One day." And I just sit around waiting for my phone to ring.
I want to tell you right now that that is total opposite of the way you should be thinking about yourself and your work. There might be 1000 photographers in your area but there is no one that have your eye and your voice. You are what make your work different. So how are you broadcasting yourself to make people connect with you?
A lot of people think the blog has died.
A lot of people think you shouldn't put yourself out on social media because people could possibly steal your work. I say let them. Because plagiarism is the deepest form of flattery and the greatest sign of a lazy and uncreative person.
You're better than that.
When my phone stopped ringing I started going to them through social media. I started blogging about tips and tricks and helpful things that people would want to read.
For example, "Five ways to take better family photos outside." I would feature my photos but then have some great tips and how to do stuff on your own. Instead of just featuring my latest work, I would title it: "10 ways to have better wedding photos in for Virginia Beach." That way people interested in Virginia Beach weddings through Facebook or Google SEO would be interested in my work and click on it. I started pinning my articles and tweeting about my work. I started being very active on Instagram and Facebook. I started using social media to my advantage. Not only is it completely free, but it's the greatest way to reach people that can most connect with YOU.
I started to join different Facebook groups online and link articles from my blog to have them see more ideas.
After I started blogging, I started sharing it to my Facebook page every day at the same time. Not only did I do posts about photography, I also did personal posts with photos of my kids. I started finding out that my most popular posts where my personal blogs about my parenting stories and my daily failures. Then I started getting comments, shares and positive feedback from my articles. My Instagram feed started to grow and grow. My Facebook page became a place of honesty and authenticity.
I started making videos about my work and behind-the-scenes of me working with clients. I started how-to videos to show people simple photography tricks. Using video actually promoted my photography the most out of everything I did.
When I went to church, I started to friend everybody that I knew- over 700 people on Facebook.
I am constantly befriending people online that I meet at Chick-fil-A, on the bus, at parks, and around my city. I am CONSTANTLY handing out business cards at church, at the gym or even at the grocery store. Then I invite them to my business page to see my work. 8/10 times, they usually accept and therefore, I get MORE likes (that are FREE and meaningful).
I am remember after my son was born, I had around 1500 views to the blog post of his birth just because people at my church are interested in our family. For weeks I had people come up to me saying they are really blessed by my post and by my pictures. And because of that post, I was able to book 2 newborn sessions and a family session.
Giving away your services might sound counter-intuitive for running a business, but it's a great way for your business to help the greater good and to make some allies.
I started to volunteer my time at the church- giving away Photo Booths for special events and sessions for silent auctions. I started giving scholarships to needy families who needed good photography.
Ultimately, I started to create content and make connections that would be interesting and valuable to my community and to my audience.
Instead of waiting around for my phone to ring or my email box to "ding," I went to them through interesting and thought-provoking articles and one-on-one connections.
I want people to join me and my family in our life's journey.
I remember after I did a bridal shoot, I got a review on my website from the bride saying: "She's not just our photographer, she's a part of my family." That's a a perfect example of a winning client-photographer relationship.
I don't just want them to hire me. I want to be a part of their family.
I think that thought can change the way that you view your business and your photography.
Before, I would just go on a trip to my kids and pull out my phone to take a little snapshot. Now, when I take my camera to the zoo with my kids, I post a personal professional photo from us at the zoo, or a random moment from my life online. Here is an example below. I was holding my 1 month old son and chasing after my 5 year old and my two year old. But when I saw the giraffe so peacefully drinking I just had to take my NIKON D750 with my 105mm lens. I love the response that I have been getting from it on my instagram feed- only 20 likes, two comments and 10 new followers in the first day!
Right after this picture was taken at the zoo, a lady comes up to me and says "Oh my gosh! I follow your blog. I am Anna."
Of course I didn't remember who she was, because like I said, I have over 700 friends from my church alone. But it was nice to feel noticed... She saw the camera in my hand and commented, "I can't wait to see the photos of this trip on your blog!"
You bet I delivered and posted that night. My audience was waiting.
In order for you as a creative to get your name out there, you have to think outside the box. You have to create hustle. You have to be constantly putting yourself out there in a subtle but direct way.
Remember, out of the thousands of photographers in your area alone and the millions around the world, there's only one with your eye and your voice.
The blog is not dead and neither is your work as long as you keep it alive with daily creative content and personalization.
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