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Tuesdays Tip

About me

We’ve all been there. You’re plugging away on your new site, your images are filling the space just as you imagined, your design is coming to life….and then you sit down to write your ‘About Me’ page, and suddenly your momentum stops. Summarizing (and more importantly selling) yourself as an artist and business owner in just a few short paragraphs is a daunting task. How do you let potential clients know just how amazing you are while convincing them to employ you over someone else in your industry?

Your about me page should give your audience a small glimpse into what it would be like to work with you. Take a moment to step back from selling your product and focus on selling yourself as an individual. To make things simple, we are going back to the old elementary school technique of identifying the 5W’s and an H. Now, you are going to be answering these questions yourself and will use the answers to guide the content on your about me page.

The who, what, where, when, why & how of your about me page:

Who am I trying to reach?

Decide who your target audience is. Research them, check out their social media, study their demographic, and use this to dictate the tone of your about me page. Are you a photographer trying to reach potential brides or families? Maybe try a more personable and casual tone. Are you trying to reach out to advertising companies or newspapers? Maybe a formal approach is the way to go. Whatever you decide, make sure that the feel of your about me page matches the feel of the rest of your brand experience in addition to where you want to see your image going in the future.

Pro-tip: Find someone in your target audience, whether it be a friend, sibling, coworker, fellow patron at a coffee shop, or a stranger on the street, and ask them to read your about me page. Ask them what their first impression is and if they would like to hire you as a result of what they read. Ask them if it is easy to read and holds their attention. This is key! If the above feedback is positive, your about me page is well on its way to grabbing the attention of your future clients.

What makes me special?

Regardless of what industry you are in, we know that you believe your services are the best, and we know that you want to share them with the world. However, what if we told you that no one cares about what you have to offer? It is your responsibility to make people care. It’s time to introduce the face behind the brand and services that you are selling throughout your site. Keeping your target audience in mind, what makes you stand out in the crowd? What makes you different and more desirable than the rest? Creatively let your audience know this as you sell yourself as an individual through your about me page.

Where do you see yourself in 6 months? 1 year? 5 years?

Have you made your business plan yet? Though it may not seem related to a simple about me page, it is absolutely vital to know and understand where you want to take your business in the future. As you create and publish content, you are creating an online brand and image for yourself that will stick with you for years to come. In todays day and age, most consumers are not only looking to buy a product, they are looking for an entire brand experience. Create goals and work to create a cohesive online image that will guide you towards your aspirations. Additionally, let your audience know what you would like to do. You never know who may be looking for the exact services that you are dreaming about offering!

When I am not working, I like to ______.

Don’t be afraid to let your audience know who you are as an individual. What do you do when you aren’t working? How do you enjoy spending your time? Is there anything about you that you think clients may relate to? This is a pretty important piece of the puzzle that will allow your web audience to connect with you on a personal level.

For example, maybe you absolutely love traveling and spend most of your free time dreaming about your next destination. Include this in your about me page! Odds are, there are plenty of people in your audience that feel the exact same way and would instantly be connected to you as an individual. While this could have the potential to turn certain clients off, it could also catch the eye of the exact person that you are trying to work with. We all want clients we mesh well with, right?

Why do I do what I do?

Take a moment to reflect on the days when you were just getting started in your specific industry. What was it that sparked your interest into getting into business? That kept you motivated and excited to create new content during the toughest times? What keeps you going now? Take a moment to think. Find something meaningful. Find something that will resonate with your target audience. Maybe include the story of the exact moment you knew you wanted to make something more out of your hobby, or tell your audience about your hopes and dreams for the future. The most important thing is to not only tell your viewers what you do but why you do it as well. Step back from selling your services for a moment (that’s what the rest of your site is for!) and share a little bit of the soul behind your business.

How can people reach me?

Now that you have people hooked on who you are as an artist, let your audience know how they can easily get into contact with you. Include links to your contact information and social media profiles on your about me page to ensure that interested customers understand the best ways to stay connected with you.

Pro-tip: Think about including a photo of yourself on your about me page (Bonus points if it is an image of you in action!). Though this is not directly related to getting into contact with you, this will allow your potential customers to connect with you on a personal level while identifying a face with the name on your brand.

While it is not necessary to include each and every aspect listed above in your about me page, it is important to put quite a bit of thought into crafting the language and content of your about me page in a strategic manner. Ready to get started?

Tuesdays Tip

SOCIAL HEADER

In today’s digital landscape, a social media presence is absolutely vital for the success of your business. At liveBooks, we understand this. With over 100 social icons to choose from, liveBooks8 allows for complete customization of the social experience you provide your audience. Connect with clients easily, using liveBooks’ social media integration tools.

Today’s tip details how to create your ideal social experience for your audience through the customization of a social media footer.

To add social media icons to the footer of your liveBooks8 site:

1. Log into the liveBooks 8 editor.
2. Select the Content editing tab.
3. Select footer on the right side, under Global Content.

Social1

4. Select your desired social platforms from our bank of over 100 options. With selections including anything from Facebook to Spotify and Vimeo, you will be able to create a customized and dynamic social experience for your unique audience.

social2

5. Add your unique social media links in the related fields.
Pro-tip: test the functionality of each button under the Design tab in your site’s preview mode to ensure each link is working as desired.
6. Admire your new social media footer and connect with your audience on a new level.

To change the color of your icons to match your branding:

1. From Content, navigate to the Design tab.
2. Select the area of the site where your social icons are located. For this tutorial, our social icons are located in our footer, so we will select the footer tab.

Social icon footer

3. Use the tools provided to customize the look, color, size and functionality of your new social icons.

Custom social

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Press save. Customization is as easy as that!

Get social with liveBooks! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Interested in learning more about a specific liveBooks8 feature? We want to know! Send us an email at social@livebooks.com.

Tamara_Eaton_liveBooks_Interior

Loft Photograph from Interior Designer Tamara Eaton's liveBooks Site

Many interior designers avoid developing their web presence because they don’t have good images of their work. If you don’t have the resources to hire a professional photographer, your next best option may be to do it yourself. Here are five simple steps to help interior designers learn how to photograph interiors.

How to Photograph Interiors: Five Simple Steps

1. Start by purchasing a good camera and tripod — If you are planning on taking interior photos, do it right with a camera that can produce high quality images. We recommend the Canon G12 ($450 msrp); a good entry-level camera that can shoot HD images and manages light well. A tripod will help you reduce noise from “camera shake” while allowing you to step away from the camera and observe your interiors. Using a timer may also help you if you don’t have a steady hand.

2. Focus on one subject for each photo — One of the easiest mistakes you can make is trying to capture EVERYTHING in one photo. Think about the different ways your design highlights the room and focus your images around these elements. As a designer, many of the elements you focus design around (flow, colors, contrast, angles, materials, lighting) will be of more interest to your clients than capturing the entire space of a room. Eliminate any items that distract from the subject of your photo.

3. Use natural light to showcase the room— Unless you have proper training, complex flash systems and lighting will be nothing but trouble. Experiment using natural lighting and try to capture your rooms from different angles throughout the day. Once you get more comfortable with your camera, you will learn what times throughout the day warrant the best results. Your tendency may be to turn on all of the lamps to add additional light; don’t. Your camera is equipped to help you and will work best with a balanced quality of lighting.

4. Don’t edit your photos on scene— If you are new to photography your images likely won’t turn out perfect; you will need to do some basic editing. If you use a Mac computer you can do basic editing using a program that is often preloaded on your computer called iPhoto. If you don’t have access to iPhoto, free applications like Pixlr can help you make adjustments to your photos.

5. Borrow ideas from the pros— Pinterest is a great way to gather inspiration for your photo shoot. Create a pinboard of interiors that you love and take notes on what aspects of a room you want to capture. By doing this prep work you will begin to recognize themes between your photos and professional interior photos.

liveBooks provides simple, easy to use, website platforms for artists, photographers and interior designers. See more examples of how interior designers use liveBooks at success.livebooks.com. Hear it first; join our Facebook and Twitter communities to receive real-time liveBooks news and updates.

In this follow up to our popular interview with David duChemin, social media consultant Miki Johnson (San Francisco) talked with wedding and portrait photographer Jason Aten (Michigan) about using social media to instill trust in a new business, which he did last year with the launch of his Starting Out Right business classes for photographers. Don’t forget you can easily integrate ’share’ and ‘follow me’ buttons into your liveBooks website by going to the social media section in your editSuite.

Before Jason Aten gave himself completely to photography, he worked in sales and marketing for a “little company called FedEx.” It’s no surprise, then, that he has built his own workshop series teaching business principles to photographers, as well as a thriving wedding and portrait photography business. Social Media has been an important tool in keeping both businesses strong and growing. During our conversation Jason shared many important insights, including why you need to get to know your funnel and how to tell if you and your blog “need to talk.”

Photo by Jason Aten

Miki Johnson: Tell me about your Starting Out Right business classes for photographers, which you launched recently with an independent website and blog. What has been your strategy for social media, starting basically from the ground up?

Jason Aten: It was completely predicated on putting up a blog with a bunch of free resources and figuring out how to drive traffic to it through communities that already existed, like forums, Facebook, and especially Twitter.

The first thing I knew was that no one would read the blog or care about it if there wasn’t valuable content there. Most people have a hard time putting up valuable content if no one’s reading it — but no one will read it if there’s not valuable content there.

Even the first person who comes to your blog is going to want to feel like it’s been there for a while. I probably posted 10 posts, one a day, before I told anyone the Starting Out Right blog existed. If they come and just see a post that says, welcome to my new blog, they’ll never come back. Because if they don’t get engaged the first time they come, they’re not going to bookmark it or subscribe to your feed.

Then I knew, doing the kind of workshop I was doing, it wasn’t like some famous person finally deciding to do a workshop; most of the people who needed this wouldn’t know who I was. So the blog also provided credibility.

From a business standpoint, where we really make money is when we do a workshop, or when someone purchases a book or eBook. But to get anyone to consider coming to a workshop or buying a resource, they had to feel like I know what I’m talking about and I’ve already shared a lot of valuable content.

I posted consistently for two months before ever saying we were doing a workshop. We had people reading on a regular basis, and then suddenly it was almost as if they asked, hey, do you have more? It was the perfect time to say, yes, I have more!

MJ: How does the online strategy differ for your wedding business?

JA: For Facebook and Twitter, I had to decide, what’s my objective? I decided I was going to use them to do two things: 1) drive people to articles on the blog to look at their friends’ wedding photos, and, 2) while they’re there, we want them to make some sort of decision, either going to the online gallery to buy a print or contacting us because they want us to shoot something for them.

On one side, Twitter and Facebook are a portal to drive people towards where we wanted them to engage. And then the other side is, both Twitter and Facebook allow you to continue the conversation with a large number of people on an almost no-risk basis. You use Twitter to drive people to come to the blog and read something, and then they have question that you answer on Twitter. It helps them get in the funnel, and then helps them stay, because it is the easiest way to engage with people.

Photo by Jason Aten

MJ: Tell us more about “the marketing funnel” and how it applies specifically to social media.

JA: The top of our funnel is Twitter or Facebook. That’s probably where we engage with the largest number of people. It’s interesting that of 1,100 Twitter followers and 1,100 Facebook friends, there’s only about 250 of those that are the same. Which I like, and it’s why we think of them as two different audiences.

Then we give that group free stuff: the blog. You don’t really make any money off that level of people, except you have the opportunity to convert them to the next level of the funnel where you have the five- to ten-page white paper on business or marketing or some topic. Maybe those cost $10. For us those are easy because I can sell a billion of them and it’s no more  work than selling one. That’s the number one transaction we have in terms of volume because it’s inexpensive and it’s easy for us to scale.

The next level from that would be the book. That was more work on our part, so it’s more expensive, and fewer people are going to buy it. After that you have a lot fewer people who will pay to come to a workshop, for example, but they’re paying a lot more money. Then at the very bottom of the funnel would be one-on-one consulting where we spend 2-3 days with a business. So you use the top of the funnel to get people in and then you get people to move down the funnel.

It’s the same with our photography business. Our blog and Facebook is the top of the funnel, where all the guests from the wedding come and look at those images. Then some of them will click on the gallery and purchase something. And then some of those people will actually contact us and book us to shoot something.

There may be fewer layers with weddings, but it’s the same idea. You want to attract as many people as you can to the top, because if you need 50 people to come out the bottom, you have to get 1,000 in the top. That’s just the way it works. Most of us think, I need 50 workshop attendees, so I need 50 people. Well, no. Part of knowing how the funnel works is understanding how many people you need at the top to get 50 people out the bottom.

To get 50 people to come out the bottom of the funnel, you have to get 1,000 in the top.

MJ: Let’s talk about weddings. How do you use social media there?

JA: When we market to clients we focus mostly on Facebook since Twitter tends to be more industry people. The goal for Facebook is to get them to the blog, and to engage when they get there. We really wanted the blog to be a place they could share their friend’s story, and then make a decision about going deeper, either going to the gallery and looking at all the images, or contacting us to get more information for their own photography.

We also wanted the blog to be a place where people felt like they could get to know me, personally. About half of my weddings, I don’t meet the client until I do their engagement session or I show up at their wedding, so there had to be a way for people to reduce that barrier. On Facebook, I post pictures of my kids more than pictures from clients, mostly because, as a guy, having two cute little girls let’s people know I’m harmless and helps me relate to brides. And I want to make it as easy for them to feel comfortable with me as possible.

MJ: How about using Facebook specifically?

JA: We post a gallery, normally 10-15 images on the blog and 20-30 on Facebook. On Facebook we post images we would never post on our blog. We want to include a bridesmaid shot because I can tag every bridesmaid, or one with all the guys smoking cigars. Maybe it’s not something I would ever put in my portfolio, but it’s an opportunity to tag people.

So we tag the bride and groom, who we’re hopefully friends with, and send them an email that says, you’ll notice we’ve tagged you in some images. Please feel free to tag anyone else you think would like to see them. We kind of put the ball in their court and let them run with it.

I used to wonder how other wedding photographers got so many comments on their blogs. I don’t know why I cared except if people weren’t leaving comments, it’s hard to know they were there. Some friends of mine said, we offer the client something for free if they get a certain number of comments.

We might offer the client a free print, which is pretty low-cost for us, and it makes the client the evangelist. Suddenly our clients are posting on Facebook saying, please go to this link and tell us how much you love the photos. Then some of those friends who might never have made it past Facebook, they see not only their friend’s wedding, and comment, but then most of those people go and look at other events and offerings. It brings them deeper into the funnel.

Photo by Jason Aten

MJ: You also talked about being part of a private photographers Facebook group and using forums to drive traffic to your blog. Do you feel like you get a payback when you put effort into those kinds of groups?

JA: My philosophy in a forum or group, is I want to earn credibility by adding value with no strings attached. Then when you have something that has strings attached, people are much more receptive.

A forum I spend a lot of time in is the Pictage Forum; I call it the “friendly forum.” I have a lot of genuine friends I’ve met there, and as a result I work really hard to try to help people there. I know if I post something about a workshop there, people will go, we like this person, we trust this person, he’s shown he’s an expert on this, and they respond accordingly. Same thing is true with the group on Facebook. If you spend some time helping people or answering questions, it’s really an easy way to establish credibility.

MJ: Can we talk a little about your book and eBook and how you’re promoting it on social media?

JA: The book was originally written as a workbook that goes along with our workshop. I spent some time filling in the blanks because, obviously, if you come to the workshop you get a lot of information as dialogue. The idea was always that it would be available as a physical product. Then, it was probably Seth Godin who inspired me, I thought, why not also make it available electronically? That requires no extra work for me.

I try to position the book as, you can have all of it for free, but have to do all the work on your own. Or you can pay for the book. When I speak publicly, at the end of my talk I say, all this information is on the blog for free. If you want it more organized, with a bunch of resources and worksheets, here’s the book. It’s reasonably priced and provides all the content from a two-day workshop. Or you can come to the workshop if you want to talk about it. I haven’t pushed it a lot on social media, but we did run a $39 special eBook deal on Twitter and it was huge. Once we are done with workshop season, it will be easier for me to spend more time promoting the book.

You can spam people on Twitter and Facebook just like with email, and I definitely don’t want to do that. If I post something about a workshop, I can almost guarantee it would be a week before I would post about our book. When we send out an email to our database of 2,500 photographers, every time I send something out, I am heartbroken when someone unsubscribes. Not because I didn’t sell something to them, but because it wasn’t relevant to them, so I no longer get to send them anything. It’s the same thing when I send something on Facebook or Twitter it’s the same. If this is irrelevant, they might stop following, and I’ll never know about it, but I’ve now lost the opportunity to have any conversation with them.

Photo by Jason Aten

MJ: What do you do to assess and measure the success of your social media strategy?

JA: I’m an economics guy, so I’m a huge measuring guy, that matters to me a ton. If I’m looking at my website, I want to know how someone got here, what they did when they got here, where they live, etc.

For instance, I posted on our blog the other day and views spikes. Let’s say 45% came from Facebook and 55% came from Twitter. I’m trying to figure out why. Turns out Facebook actually imported the whole post into a note, so readers didn’t have a reason to click over to the blog. Which makes me think, I don’t want my blog posts to import to Facebook, because I can’t track it. Tracking helps me understand my different audiences. For example, when we announced an upcoming workshop in Michigan, I posted it on Facebook, because I knew I was connected to more people in Michigan there than on Twitter.

MJ: Could you give me some details on the difference you perceive between your Facebook and Twitter audiences?

JA: For me, Facebook is mostly people I know in the real world and clients or people who might be looking for photography. The interesting thing is, we do have a business Facebook page, but I don’t spend any effort on it, because, if my goal is to show people images and let them get to know me, what better place to do that than my personal Facebook page?

I know a lot of people struggle with, well, I wouldn’t want potential clients to know this about me; it’s like, then maybe that shouldn’t be true about you. So the Facebook appeal is it’s authentic and transparent. If you’re constantly worried about filtering that, it loses the authenticity.

Twitter was more where I was interacting with other industry people, like wedding planners, or other photographers I didn’t necessarily know and I wanted to engage about our business offerings. I’ve noticed people will become a Twitter follower first, and then later will become a friend on Facebook after we’ve gotten to know them.

Twitter helped me expand my sphere of influence. For instance, I went to Imaging USA in San Antonio, and a photographer I really respected but didn’t know was going to be there. Twitter made it really easy to say, great, I’ll be there too, let’s get coffee. But I never would have called that person.

Twitter made it really easy to say, let’s get coffee. But I never would have called that person.

When I moved back to Michigan in 2007, I started following planners on Twitter. It really easy to say, hey, great to see that wedding you did that was featured in some magazine. I’d love to buy you lunch and learn more about your business.

People start to trust you when there is consistency and time. Twitter is a way to have conversations over time. It’s much less threatening than picking up the phone. If I just want to send someone a casual note, I’ll send them a Twitter message; if it’s a little more important, I’ll send them an email. You have to know someone to call them.

MJ: You mentioned that you had too many blogs at one point, and ended up breaking your own rule of always posting regularly. Can you share any lessons you learned from that?

JA: The reason we ended up with four or five blogs was that we were intentionally segmenting our audience. So our signature wedding, the ones I shoot, the only thing I wanted on that blog would be the wedding I shoot and then personal stuff about me and my family. I didn’t want what my associates’ shots there and I didn’t want high school seniors, for example.

So we moved all our associates stuff and lifestyle sessions to a completely different website, brand, blog, everything. But then we shot 110 seniors! I couldn’t blog all of them, are you kidding me? And with high-school students, if you blog more than three photos, you won’t make any sales. We just didn’t have a good strategy.

Then for the Starting Out Right, we were very intentional about putting it somewhere else, because I did not want my wedding clients to feel like I was selling their secrets or anything like that. It’s good for them to know their photographer is considered an expert on something, but I did not want them worried I’d talk about them in workshops.

And I wanted people who came to the business side to understand, this is a place where you learn about running the business of photography. I didn’t want those posts mixed with one on album design. I wanted to be judged on business not the photos there.

If the whole point of a blog is to engage people, it’s kind of like if you have a marriage but you never come home. I was dating too many blogs, and I didn’t have a good relationship with them any more. Now we’re moving toward all our blogs being managed within the same interface and space to make everything a lot easier. We want to maintain the individuality of the brands, but also make it sustainable.

November 9th, 2010

What is Branding?

Posted by Michelle Loretta

Many people think that branding is a logo, a website, and some stationery.  In actuality, branding is the feeling that people have when they come into contact with your business.  It is a combination of your company’s mission statement, core values, principles, philosophies, and reputation.  Your branding identity – the logo, website, etc. – is the imagery that represents your brand.  Branding identity can have a very powerful impact on the emotion of your customers and potential customers.

First Things First

When we are defining our company’s branding identity, we often create a design based on our preferences.  We like red and such our identity becomes a red logo.  Or, the trend color is turquoise and the website becomes turquoise.  The problem with creating branding identity based on these preferences is that it is built on the surface of a business.  This type of identity doesn’t represent what runs deep in our business.

Building Your Brand

Want to build a strong brand that best represents your business?  Sit down and define the following:

  • What is your mission statement?
  • Who are you?  What is your business about?
  • What are you values and your company’s values?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What is your specialty?

From here, work to define the identity that will draw people to your company.  Powerful identity will work to link the customer’s eye with your business inside and out.

Go Beyond Branding Identity

Branding is so much more than your logo, website, and stationery.  It is in the way you answer the phone, the way you dress for a meeting, the way you present your porfolio.  Branding that is carried through all aspects of your business will create a consistent experience for your customer.  It is this consistent experience that makes your brand strong.  These factors are what makes a brand become instantly recognizable and highly valuable.

Wanna learn more?  Visit Sage Wedding Pros’ blog for more on mission statements, values, and branding.

Not even sure what a ‘brand’ is in the context of your solo career? Put simply, it’s the way you present yourself to your clients.

More »

As Cultural Director at Magnum Photos in London, I’ve had a lot of experience of proposing work to venues both in the UK and abroad. Promoting a project for exhibition is aided hugely by a good network of contacts, however, there are also things you can do even if you’re starting out. Following are some points to bear in mind with regards to the process.

More »

With nearly 100 million iPad, iPhone and iTouch devices in use across the planet, liveBooks’ CMO John Philpin was recently interviewed by TWiP host Frederick Van Johnson to find out how liveBooks is responding to the lack of Flash on those devices. As it turns out, it’s all under control. In the podcast, John and Frederick explore our new iPhone and iPad settings, which are now available to all customers through the liveBooks editSuite.

Frederick and John also discussed how liveBooks plans to advance along with the ever-changing world of technology that we are part of today – and what it all means to you as a liveBooks customer and a creative professional.

Interested in hearing more? Listen to John and Frederick in this podcast, which can be found on PixelCorps.tv.

As some of you may recall, we recently conducted a survey centered on blogging and the habits of bloggers. We wanted to know why you blog (or don’t), how often you blog, how you promote your blog and more. The results revealed key insights into the blogging world of creative professionals, and we gleaned several important truths which we have captured in our new paper, ‘8 Blogging Truths for Creative Professionals.’

The ‘8 Truths’ help guide you through the world of blogging, provide advice on how to leverage your blog to help grow your creative business and feature tips from influential bloggers in the creative community such as Vincent Laforet and David Airey.

From our survey results, it is clear that most of you experience frustration with how to approach blogging and our belief is that this then deters you from setting up your own blog.

Now, I know that you (like us) hate the idea of ‘shameless self promotion’ – but I think this is one of those exceptions and you will be happy to learn that we now offer a solution to this problem with liveBooks Companion Blogs.  No longer is there any need to spend hours trying to find a template that ‘kind of’ looks like your website, or toil through the troubles of hosting your blog in cyberspace.

While this is an answer to just one of your blogging qualms, we know there are several other concerns you and thousands of other creative professionals face on a daily basis, which is why we encourage you to take a peek at our latest blogging report. Let us know what you think about the report. Do you agree with the truths? Do you have any truths to add to the mix?

If you want to read the paper in it’s entirety – follow this link and request the paper.

Freelance photographer Robert Caplin launched The Photo Brigade in mid-February as a place to bring together and highlight work being published on photographer’s own platforms (blogs). By placing a premium on viral capabilities through Facebook and Twitter, he’s helping build a huge network to publicize freelancers’ work.

Miki Johnson: How did the idea for Photo Brigade come to you?

Robert Caplin: As a fairly new blogger myself, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of how to actually build a following and bring traffic to my personal blog. After months of research and good old trial and error, I found the best way to increase my traffic and find readers was by sharing my link by way of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and referring links or stories on other blogs, such as this one. I quickly realized that if I combined my Facebook and Twitter networks, I was suddenly reaching a much larger potential viewership, which only multiplied when someone else decided to share or re-tweet my link.

Suddenly, not only was I reaching thousands of people through my personal network, but I was also reaching the networks of those who were kind enough to share my link with their followers. The viral nature of social media can really work to the advantage of photographers to get their work seen by the masses. So it went to figure that if photographers as a whole worked together to build a vast shared network, all would benefit by the added traffic it would bring their websites and blogs…and that’s how the The Photo Brigade came to me.

MJ: How long did it take you to make it a reality?

RC: Not long actually. My original idea was to start a blog, but that would take a while to design (because I wanted to do it properly) and it would take time to actually build a following. It occurred to me that I could test the concept quite easily by simply making a Facebook Page where I could easily share direct links to the cool blogs I was reading and people could easily subscribe to the feed by becoming a fan.

I also started a Twitter account. Over the next week The Photo Brigade page gained hundreds of followers and within weeks had over a thousand. I should also mention that this happened completely unsolicited and 100% organically, proving how well social networking can get the word out. It was obvious that not only was there a desire for a service like this, but also a genuine need.

MJ: It seems like a lot of work for something you do on the side of your own photography business. What makes it worth it?

RC: Well, to be honest it has taken a good chunk of my time to build … but that was the hard part. I should also note that I worked with my wonderful designer Laia Prats to create the brand and build the blogs using custom templates she tediously tweaked and designed. I couldn’t have done it without her help!

Now that the blog has been designed and content has been uploaded, the rest is really quite simple. There’s no lack of amazing photography out there. Given that The Photo Brigade was built to promote the work of freelancers, those photographers have been happy to share their work. Also, with a number of shooters submitting work, it’s almost as though it’s running itself. As Photo Brigade grows, I’ll be implementing some really great tools and resources for photographers and editors alike … but you’ll have to stay tuned to see what those are!

MJ: What has the response been like so far, from contributors as well as viewers, especially editors?

RC: The response has been very positive! The website is receiving steady traffic and it’s growing by the day. The same goes for contributors. Everyday I’m receiving emails from photographers from around the world, some I know and others I’ve never heard of, sharing their latest blog posts of their work.

Editors are a little harder to track and gauge because they’re obviously not submitting work themselves, though I’ve received a number of emails from editors praising the blog. There are also editors and directors of photography from major media outlets who follow the Facebook feed.

MJ: How do you choose photographers to feature?

RC: The featured photographers have either submitted their work from the submissions page, or I’ve reached out to the them personally. Because we receive many submissions, not every submission is featured. The best way to be chosen is to have a blog, as our mission is to encourage blogging. In your blog post we’d like to see a number of strong images with a well written explanation about the photography. We will pull 2-3 images as well as take some of the copy and post it on Photo Brigade teasing the blog.

It’s also encouraged for the photographers to supply a Twitter account so we can plug their account when we tweet to our followers about the post. By doing so, we’ll raise awareness for the photographer, and also help build the photographer’s social network. Many are adverse to using Twitter, but it’s one hell of a marketing tool. It would be silly not to tap into the millions of Twitter users out there, many of whom are photo editors and image buyers. We’re all about viral marketing and social media — the more we link to other people, the more visibility our blog gets, which trickles down to the photographers we feature.

It’s important to note that photographers should not be discouraged a submission isn’t accepted. Please continue to submit whenever you have a post you feel is worthy!

MJ: You just added three university blogs. Why was that important and how do you see them growing?

RC: While I was answering these questions, we decided to start one more! My friend and fellow photographer Chip Litherland is helping me run the Colorado Photo Brigade, which will feature the University of Colorado at Boulder. I decided to branch out further and focus on universities because there are so many photography students producing amazing work on a daily basis. I figured I could use the same concept to create a community of students, alumni, and faculty to showcase the work coming from each school as well as former students.

Obviously I’m only a team of one, and don’t have time to moderate all these blogs and make a living myself, so I enlisted the help of eager students at each university who are closer to their classmates and can encourage them to blog. The regional branches also create a wonderful place for everyone to see the end product of what each institution is producing. Each post is tagged and categorized…so if you want to reference a particular class (photo 101) or search only for alumni work or just the class of 2002, you’ll be able to. Check out our regional blogs: Ohio, Missouri, and Rochester, all with their respective Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Many more to come!

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