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With so many social media outlets available today, it can sometimes become overwhelming to choose which ones you should be using to engage your audience and bring in new customers. It may seem like the best course of action is to ignore all the choices and just stick to one outlet. What many photographers do not realize, however, is that each platform offers opportunities for growth – whether this may be through brand recognition, followers, or potential customers is your choice! We have outlined the platforms we believe will give your photography business the biggest growth potential!
With over 200 millions users, Instagram has the power to become one of the most important means of outreach for your photography business worldwide. This platform offers you the chance to build a portable portfolio where you can showcase your work. This doesn’t mean that you have to post every picture from your shoot, but rather the one(s) you consider to be the best.
With its massive hashtag database, Instagram can help bring in clients that are looking for your type of work. By using specific hashtags, clients will be able to find you more easily. When used correctly, these hashtags can become similar to how SEO helps your webpage get views. In addition, creating a unique hashtag for your business can help create a viewing gallery for potential clients. For example, using #johnsmithphotography on your images and having your clients use it when they post your images on their profiles, will ultimately increase your brand’s recognition!
Facebook is one of the first platforms that comes to mind when talking about social media. Having 1.71 billion monthly active users makes it one of the most widely known social media platform. It not easy to figure that this platform can be a very powerful tool to drive new customers to your business!
Instead of using your personal page to showcase your work, create a Facebook page that allows anyone to access your profile. With the use of analytics provided by Facebook, you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of each post and activity on the account. Additionally, creating a page allows you to boost a post and create advertising campaigns. These two options allow you to choose your target audience (residing area, gender, age, etc.)!
Another great tool that Facebook offers is the creation of events. If, for example, you are giving a photography seminar and would like to invite your followers to attend, this tool helps you reach out to an audience, track the amount of attendees, and keep the discussion streamlined all in one place!
Twitter is oftentimes overlooked by many photographers. It requires time and energy to fit everything you are trying to communicate about a shoot into only 140 characters. However, this is a powerful form of expression. You do not need to give your audience an entire explanation of what the picture is about. Rather, allow your image to speak for itself. The saying holds true in this scenario: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
Many photographers do not realize that when they share their work through Twitter, it can get picked up surprisingly quick. The environment surrounding this platform is very much based around retweets. When your followers love your work, they are very likely to retweet your posts!
To start promoting your business through Twitter, you can see the marketing tips they offer on their website!
As with Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo are often ignored by photographers. Many argue that they are not videographers and do not have any content to upload. These video-based platforms are often relevant to the type of photography that you dedicate yourself to. If you are a Wedding Photographer, uploading samples of the “Wedding Day” videos you have created would be a great way to showcase your work to new clients.
If the type of photography you dedicate yourself to doesn’t require the use of videos, you can create video tutorials for your audience and peers. These types of videos create a sense of trust in your viewers that can easily translate into a client-based relationship. By creating a channel on YouTube or Vimeo, your audience will be able to more easily find you and find more videos created by you.
Pintrest is a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images and videos to their pinboards. The main idea is to create a variety of categories that contain pins, resources, photos, and other information that the viewer finds interesting.
As a photographer, creating your own account that not only showcases your work but also has pins of the type of things you like, allows viewers to better connect with you in a personal way. Landscape photographer, Joshua Holko, shares his work from his projects in various boards that viewers are able to see and pin onto their own boards.
It’s also important to note that this social media platform is largely based on shares. Since photography is such a visual business, it can be a great tool for photographers to market both themselves and their business.
It’s important that as a photographer you choose the social media platform(s) you feel best represent your business. When starting off new campaigns or social media accounts, it’s important to have a specific goal in mind. With this idea, you’ll be able to accurately measure your success.
Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is more important now than ever. Simply defined, SEO is the ability for online search engines to recognize your site through proper indexing. With a sound SEO strategy, you will be able to organically drive customers to your business, based on keywords and common search terms.
With a saturated marketplace, it is often challenging to drive your desired client base to your website. It is proven that just about 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results (imFORZA), so it is absolutely vital that you stay on top of your SEO game. Getting your site boosted in search engine results will result in a free rise in traffic to your website.
liveBooks takes the guesswork out of your SEO strategy. Our SEO EVERYTHING™ tool is here to help boost your online visibility, allowing users to connect with your site organically. Easily add title tags, page and image descriptions, and keywords to every aspect of your site. From your homepage, down to individual images, your site will be working to ensure that the right customers are seeing your site in their search engine results.
SEO EVERYTHING™ OVERVIEW
Quickly add tags, descriptions, keywords, image alt text and more to your website so that your site is easily searchable and indexed properly, resulting in increased traffic from search engines.
Add a title, description, keyword, and even a photo credit to every image on your site to ensure search engines can crawl all of your content.
Your liveBooks8 site will allow you to edit your site title, site description, set your search settings, and choose the most accurate Schema.org organization type to help search engines better index and leverage your content.
We’ve discussed the importance of branding for your business and finding your unique voice. One incredibly important aspect of that branding is designing a fantastic logo that potential clients will begin to recognize and associate with your business. In this post we will outline a few things to keep in mind when designing your logo.
In the photography industry your images are always going to be the most important aspect of your business, however your logo is an important indicator of your style and can have an impact on a potential client’s decision to work with your or not. Make sure that your logo is reflective of your overall style and is consistent with the way you want your audience to view your business. For instance, different font treatments, colors, and designs can automatically evoke a certain emotional response from a viewer. Commercial and editorial photographers typically have a simpler logo with a specific font and maybe one or two design elements thrown in that speaks to their professionalism. A wedding photographer, for example, might have a more elaborate logo design and graphics that speaks to the emotional nature of their clients. Whatever your niche, it is important to remember that a logo is a graphical representation of the style of your work.
Color, Size, and Placement
Much like deciding whether your images will have a greater impact in color or black and white, the decision to use color in your logo design should be approached in the same manner. If your logo design has a lot of graphics in the background, using color will make those graphics more prominent; if your logo is a simpler design that features either just your name or the name of your business, a black and white color scale may make more sense.
In the same vein, deciding on the size of your logo will also be important. Keep in mind that no matter how stellar, cool, and unique your logo turns out to be, a potential client’s focus when looking at your website or marketing materials should be on your images. Your logo should not only serve as a supplement and a reinforcement of your photography and therefore should not overwhelm or take over the entire page or website.
Lastly, deciding on the placement of your logo within your website will also be integral. Does it have more impact being used as the background for your splash page when a user first lands on your site? Or do you simply want it placed in a small portion of the upper right/left corner of your website? Whatever you ultimately decide, your editSuite and our Support Team allows you the ability to customize the placement of your logo to fit your needs.
What Does Your Logo Mean?
Much like every image you capture, every logo should tell a story – even if it’s just to you. It’s important that you are able to articulate why you chose the logo design that you did, what it means to you, and what message you want it to send to your clients. A good exercise to try is writing down three words or ideas to describe your business or style. Once you have a few logo designs that you are deciding between, ask some friends and family (who will give you an honest, objective opinion) to look at the designs and write down the words that come to mind when they view each logo. If you find that some of the words they use match-up with the descriptions you’ve written about your business, you’ll know which logo is on the right track.
While many businesses (especially ones that have been around for many years) go through re-branding, it is important that you are not changing your logo all the time. In order for potential clients to really associate your logo with your brand, it needs to remain consistent and have time to become recognizable.
Ultimately, whether you design your own logo yourself or hire a graphic designer, having a logo for your business is an incredibly important aspect of establishing your brand and professionalism. What other tips do you have for designing a logo?
You spend hours upon hours getting the perfect photo. You love everything about it and can’t wait to showcase it everywhere possible – your website, blog, Facebook, Instagram, Google+. Then your worst nightmare as a photographer happens – a few months later you notice your photo is being shared around, but with absolutely no credit to you as the photographer. In the digital age we’re living in, this scenario happens all too often. How do you protect yourself against this type of situation? Watermarking images is a constant debate in the creative community. In this post we will explore the pros and cons of watermarking. We will also lay out a few other easy options to protect your work.
Pros of Using Watermarks
Beyond helping to protect your images from theft, watermarking your images can serve a few other purposes:
Cons of Using Watermarks:
Watermarking the Right Way:
In an effort to combine the best of both worlds, here are some quick tips for watermarking your images in a way that allows you to enjoy all of the pros and experience few of the cons.
Let’s take a look at some easy alternatives to watermarking your images that will still provide you some protection from theft.
Lastly, make sure you are educated on the tools out there to help you keep track of your images. TinEye is a service that allows you to submit an image to find out where it came from, how it is being used, and if modified versions of the image exist. Google Image Search is also an easy and free way to track your images – you can enter the URL or upload your image to see where it’s been or see any images that look similar to it. Whether you choose to watermark your images or not, it is always best to make sure you register your photos with the US Copyright Office.
Many professional photographers start out taking photos as a hobby or a creative outlet. At some point, you realize that your talent is too good to be limited to a few nights and weekends here and there, and take the leap to becoming a full-time professional photographer. Starting your own business can be challenging. Once something goes from a hobby to a livelihood it’s easy to get lost among all the things that need to get done. Building your photography brand and voice is an extremely important piece of creating a successful business. Here are some tips to help you build your photography brand while still enjoying what made you take that leap in the first place: capturing amazing images.
Take photos because it makes you happy
One of the best ways to find your voice and build your brand is to always remember to take photos because it makes you happy – not because you need to sell them. This may seem intuitive, but many times photographers will spend so much energy researching the perfect equipment and collecting different lenses that they forget to step back and enjoy taking pictures. Having fun, trying new things and exploring will naturally bring out the creativity in you and lead to some of your best work. Plus, taking beautiful photographs comes from the heart – trying to “force” a perfect image for the sole purpose of selling it will probably result in a lot of frustration. Bottom line: if you do it because you love it and it makes you happy, people will feel more of a personal connection to the pictures you capture, in turn helping you to build a consistent voice and brand.
Study your previous work
Chances are that if you’ve been photographing for a while (professionally, or otherwise) you have thousands of photos to look through. If you are just starting out with your business, devote some time to studying all of your previous work. Try to find common themes in your images – do you tend to like a certain time of day best? Do you prefer shooting people or landscapes? Do you prefer candid shots, or giving your subjects more direction to stage the perfect image? Once you’ve determined some common themes, this will give you a better idea of how to brand yourself and describe the type of work you do to others.
Build your portfolio to reflect your brand and voice
Studying your previous work is also the best way to start building your professional portfolio. Once you’ve landed on common themes in your work, figure out which photos you’ve taken that have garnered the most responses out of people in the past. Utilize social media. It is probably pretty likely that you have posted your previous work to some social media outlet at some point or another. It would be very simple yet extremely beneficial for you to go back and look at the comments people made on the photos that you shared. Which ones resonated the most with your audience? Which ones got the most attention, likes, shares, or engagement? This will help you determine your best work and what should ultimately make the final cut for your professional portfolio.
Write a stellar ‘About’ page that shows off your brand and voice
While most of your brand and voice is going to be conveyed through your images, being able to show off your personality through your website’s ‘About’ section is also very important. The ‘About’ page is most likely the first time a potential client is really “meeting” you – and it will set the tone for all your written communication with your clients. Whether you decide to use that space to talk about the inspiration for your work, your camera gear, or your personal journey as a photographer or creative – what you decide to say and how you say it will tell a potential client a lot about the way you do business.
Don’t kill your creativity
So much of your voice and brand as a photographer comes from your creativity and is what makes you unique and sets you apart. Sometimes, when photographers start to take photos for a living, they become perfectionists – always critiquing and criticizing their work. Constructive criticism is definitely a good way to learn and grow, but too much of it can cause you to shut yourself down as a photographer. Some of the best and most famous photos have some technically “imperfect” aspects, and yet those are part of what has made them so fantastic. Don’t lose sight of your voice in an attempt to create an image that everyone else will love – focus on why you love it.
What other tips have you employed over the years to help build a successful photography brand? We’d love to know!
Hopefully by now you all know about the importance of social media for the success of your business. At this stage in the social game, Facebook and Twitter should be old hat. But what about some of the newer platforms that are quickly becoming more popular – even surpassing – some of the old favorites? Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr are the networks to watch in 2015 – and the good news for all you creative professionals – all of these platforms are dominated by photo and video content.
Instagram – With 300 million monthly active users and Citigroup just raising the valuation of the network from $19 billion to $35 billion, Instagram has officially surpassed Twitter. With a number of recent updates to the app, such as looping videos, like its main competitor, Vine, does, Instagram has made some huge strides in overall user experience. Instagram also just released a whole slew of new photo editing tools – from creative tools, to brand new filter choices – making it the ideal space for creative professionals to share their photos. If you aren’t on Instagram already, this should be the first social network that you check out ASAP so you can connect with customers, showcase your work, and develop your brand. (Also, make sure to follow @liveBookswebsites!)
Pinterest – With another round of funding, Pinterest is rumored to now be valued at $11 billion with an 111% growth in active users in the past six months. Pinterest has also been making some pretty significant updates to its platform – a smarter search tool called Guided Search that allows a user to filter their searches by adding specific filters relevant to the original search term. Plus, much like Instagram’s Direct feature, Pinterest also recently released the ability for users to have private conversations about specific pins. Since up to 80% of all pins on Pinterest are repins – this is a huge opportunity for photographers to organically “pin” their own content with a high likelihood that it will be re-pinned by the Pinterest community. Everyone – from agency’s (for commercial/editorial work) to consumers (for portraits and weddings) are searching photos on Pinterest. This is a great platform to showcase your work and get noticed – and don’t forget to #hashtag!
Tumblr – While Tumblr has actually been around since 2007, because of some updates and a refreshed interface, its active users grew by 120% in the past six months. To put this all in perspective, Facebook’s active users grew by just 2% in the past six months. And while Tumblr is mostly known as a microblogging platform, the reason to be on Tumblr is its highly engaged community. Posts are shared, reblogged, liked, and commented on with great frequency, and it has become known as the “Twitterized version of WordPress.” While you can share and post pretty much any content you want, from text, photos, quotes, links, chat, audio, and video, unsurprisingly in this day and age, the most shared and liked content is photos. Since 83% of Tumblr posts are photos, and most users do not create their own content, adding your original photos to the content pool will set you apart in the Tumblr world. Check out Harrison Jacobs “7 Tumblr Tips for Photographers” for some really great info on how to best utilize this platform for your business.
I think we all know that social media is here for the long haul, and the good news is that it’s a great opportunity to show off your creativity and add meaningful content to the conversation. Take advantage of all of these free ways to get your brand out there – because it will be imperative for the future of your business.
1. Add Fresh Content
With the new year on the horizon, our design experts recommend refreshing the images and content on your website to make sure you are displaying recent and relevant work. “So many people like to build their site and forget it. We’ve found that the most successful websites are those that are updated regularly,” says Ryan Maher, designer at liveBooks.com. Just like a store changes the display window each season, we recommend refreshing the work displayed on your site two or three times a year.
2. Keep Mobile in Mind
It’s no secret that the world is going mobile. As more and more of your website traffic comes from smart phones and tablets, you need to make sure your website is optimized for those visitors. Whether you use a responsive website platform or enable a mobile-optimized version of your desktop site, you need to be sure your website looks good –and functions well– across all devices.
Expert Tip: Design with mobile in mind. The mobile visitor behaves differently than the desktop visitor- make sure your site looks good for both!
3. Use Clear Navigation
Website Designer Adam Royer advises, “Function over fashion. User-friendliness is a must!” As you build your website, have an idea in mind of what you want your visitors to do when they land there. Do you want them to view your portfolio? Contact you? Watch a video? Whatever your answer, make sure your navigation and layout makes it easy for people to go to the pages you are hoping to highlight. A clean navigation menu is one of the easiest way to accomplish this!
Expert Tip: Make sure the text is legible! Use fonts that are large enough to be read on all devices.
4. Blog Regularly
Since we don’t all have time to change the photos on our website every week, a blog is a great way to add fresh content to your web presence without altering the look and feel of your website. Make it a goal to generate one blog post per week. You can start short and simple, just try to get something out there. Not only will new blog posts engage your visitors and showcase your recent work, it is also a huge benefit from an SEO perspective, as search engines tend to favor sites producing new content.
5. Let Your Images Do the Talking
Your photos are your calling card, show them off! One of the biggest trends in website design for 2015 is large, full-bleed photos that extend across the entire page. We recommend choosing a few photos that convey your vision, and displaying them (in a rotating slider or stacked) on your homepage. A great website design that uses this full-bleed feature is the STATURE template within the liveBooks Professional Design Templates.
Search Engine Optimization is considered one of the most important things you can do for your website. No matter how great your site looks, and how user friendly it is, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are not going to display it in their results without the proper keywords, tags, backlinks, etc. While search algorithms change constantly, (making it nearly impossible to “game the system”) one thing you can do to help your ranking is to name your images. Since most photographers websites are portfolio based, you can counteract the lack of keywords with naming and alt tags in your images.
7. Make it Easy to Contact You
You’ve worked hard to get visitors to your site- make sure you’re making it easy for them to contact you! Whether you utilize a traditional contact form or simply write out your contact information, our experts recommend having a way to contact you listed from every single page of your website.
Expert Tip: Contact forms with fewer than 5 fields perform best!
8. Showcase Videos
Whether or not you have a videography component to your work, including two or three videos on your site is a great way to engage your visitors and bring your work to life. Each liveBooks template allows for vimeo integration, providing you with the ability to have a video grid, single video, or full-page video embedded into your site. Some suggested video types include: behind the scenes footage of a shoot, a welcome video of you talking about your work or a promotional video featuring your work.
Expert Tip: Videos perform better when they are integrated into your site, rather than requiring a pop-up to play.
9. Track Visitor Behavior
In order to ensure that your website is performing the way you want it to, you need to understand what people are doing (or not doing) on your site. Google analytics is one of the easiest (and cheapest- it’s free!) ways to track the behavior of visitors to your website. Once you understand how visitors are engaging with your site, you can adjust photos, content, and calls to action to maximize each visit. Notice that people keep hitting your pricing page after visiting a specific gallery? Highlight that gallery on your homepage to increase conversions!
10. Choose the Right Photos
Some photos resonate better than others when put up on your website. Designer Ryan Mahar recommends that you have a portfolio editor or even some friends or colleagues go through your images and pick out their favorites. Then choose what to upload accordingly.
Most marketing experts say you need to strictly adhere to a plan and adopt specific tactics and objectives in order to be successful. Well, as a photographer with a creative soul whose spirit prefers shooting wonderful images more than being awash in spreadsheets, I follow three pretty simple rules: I cast a wide net in the right waters by having a great website, practice targeted email marketing, and make sure to stay in touch with current and potential clients.
By practicing this style of marketing, I have been able to maintain a thriving studio in today’s competitive environment.
Casting the Big Net
The Internet offers a huge sea of potential clients, so one of the key things for me is to cast a wide net with a great website. This net is my 24 hour presence and my virtual storefront, so it’s important to show my best work. Personally I love the way liveBooks displays large, high quality photos and permits me to change or move around images in a snap. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a potential client tell me they decided to call because they saw my site. Since I switched over to liveBooks, my revenue has risen over 50 percent. One client even told me he looked at more than 250 photographers’ websites before narrowing it down based on site views alone. It came down to me and one other candidate. I got the job.
Of course you can never be sure who’s surfing the Internet, so that’s why I make it a point to constantly include fresh images and keep the range of displayed photos wide. I can point to an example where just after updating my site I reeled in a big client, the National Mango Board, who in turn referred me to their agency. I was hired to shoot a campaign for them including recipes and beauty shots of mangos. As it happens, the account executive that we worked with loved my photography and decided to tie in the American Lamb Board and sent them to my site for their feedback. Once again my website came through for me without my knowledge. That union led to another client through the same agency, the National Peanut Council.
Consistent Email Marketing Pays Off
Besides this wide cast, I like to use personalized email marketing to nab or influence individual targets—the ones I know. I call this my narrower net. My list is up to three thousand names, mostly clients, peers, people I have met and think might one day be a source of business or referral. My email marketing is not highly polished or sent out at consistent intervals. I send out HTML emails that feature a fresh image whenever I have the opportunity. My images are simple and clean with appetite appeal! I add a few personal sentences and hit the send button. I think recipients appreciate the sentiment and see this as a greeting card, not a marketing push. Just staying in touch reminds people of your work. A few holidays back I sent out about 500 emails with the martini glasses. Nearly ten percent responded with well wishes and I netted two big jobs. Today I count 80 percent of my clients to be repeaters, so email marketing is a real inexpensive mainstay for me.
Face to Face is a Narrow Net
The old fashioned way which is geographically limited is getting out there as much as possible to network face to face. People like working with a photographer they have met and are comfortable with. I always carry my business card that has a mouthwatering photo on the back. Combine this with a great website and consistent communication through the Internet and you have a winning recipe.
If the top priority for your photography website is to get your best images out there for the world to see, next on the list should be having a unique About page. Your About page is your chance to incorporate a little extra personality into your work which will help you stand out from the competition.
For many of us it’s second-nature to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, but when it comes to talking about ourselves and writing a few paragraphs about what we do we often just throw something together about our education, qualifications and experience. This is a huge lost opportunity!
Imagine, as a potential client, that you’re looking for a photographer for your wedding day. You’ve narrowed it down to two photographers with comparable talents at the same price range, but one has a typical About page and the other shows some personality and makes you laugh. Who are you going to choose?
Clients are getting savvier every day, and with a run-of-the-mill bio you risk looking like someone merely going through the motions rather than a photographer full of ideas and energy who is ready to deliver amazing photos. Don’t be afraid of posting something a little quirky and off-beat. A little something different is a breath of fresh air.
In addition, from a photographer’s standpoint, having a unique About page works great as an extra level of pre-qualification. We all know that the best, most rewarding shoots are the ones where the client shares our tastes and sensibilities and therefore trusts our vision and judgment. By having a unique About page, you will attract clients that see the world as you do and also weed out clients who may not be the best fit. We’ve heard from countless photographers that people who mention their About page in their initial contact are almost always on the same page as they are when it comes to stylistic choices for their shoot. In this age of fast, fast, and faster, with so many decisions being made based on what can be found online, a unique About page is critical to help you stand out from the masses.
The internet is constantly changing and as creative small business owners we need to evolve as it changes. It seems like everyone is touting the importance of the mobile experience these days – and for good reason!
The number of smart phones in use worldwide has exceeded 1 billion, and it’s only continuing to climb. In fact, although only 1% of small businesses have optimized their website for mobile viewing, 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. By the end of 2014 mobile is predicted to overtake desktop Internet usage. With consumers using mobile devices and tablets more often, it has become more important than ever to have a well-designed mobile website for your business. More »