Chapter 4: Social Media
Your social media accounts are mini versions of your brand. They are extensions of your website. Be consistent and have the same profile photo on all, so you are easily recognisable nomatter where people want to connect with you.
There are so many platforms out there, and all of them want us to feel and believe that we cannot run our businesses without them. But unless you are superhuman or have a whole team behind you it is impossible to stay current and active on all of them. I recommend choosing no more than 1-3 places and then work the few you choose to the best of your abilities.
Which ones it should be depends entirely on your own strengths and weaknesses and where your ideal client is most likely to be. I am no social media expert, and there is plenty of information out there for you to find out how to make the most of each platform, so I will focus on my own two choices only.
If you want to use Pinterest for your business, focus on only two things to begin with:
Pins and boards that are relevant to your ideal client and their ”problems”, areas of interest, taste and values.
Pins and boards that showcase your interests and personality as well as your work.
If you have done you work right, with your branding words, those two should be pretty easy and it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with ideas for boards.
When you pin from your own blog or website, remember to make great use of the description text box, so your images will appear in relevant searches. I neglected that part of the pinning process for the first few years, and that was a big mistake. Pinterest is basically more search engine than it is a community platform, and as opposed to Instagram your images do not get "bumped" by newer content but stays eqaully relevant.
It is also an excellent place to collaborate with other creatives and create shared boards for styled shoots etc.
My own Instagram @camillajorvad is not a good example because I was VERY late to the game and once I signed up I already had a nice flow of clients so I didn't really utilize the power of it and only posted very infrequently. But with my other lifestyle account @sigridsminde I have built a following of 15K+ over the past three years, despite the constant algorythm changes making it very difficult and extremely laboursome to grow a big following and be seen by even a fraction of the people who actively choose to follow you.
Despite that frequent frustration Instagram is absolutely a photographer’s dream (if you have patience). It is a great way for clients to find you, because, in my experience, the Instagram client is informed, modern, has great taste and values photography, creativity and art in general.
The best way to grow a following now is to consistently share great content/beautiful images.
Who are your followers, who are you speaking to?
if you only share one fantastic wedding photo after another, but never sharing anything personal, you will most likely "only" get other photographers as followers. Now don't get me wrong, acknowledgement from peers feels good, and community is great! But unless you are creating workshops or other services or products for your fellow photographers those fans will not be paying your bills. Couples will, so to maximise the return on your time investment on IG focus your attention on them instead of your industry colleagues. Having lots of followers can be wonderful but it must never be the priority. Please hear me, so I'm going to write it again: A high follower number in and of itself is not a useful or constructive goal!! You will go much much further with 200 active and engaged followers than 10.000 inactive ones. So never ever pay for fake followers (many offer this "service", but it has no real value)
Here are your potential followers:
Couples who have booked you or whose wedding you have already photographed and who like to keep up with you and your "adventures" after the fact because they feel a connection with you
Other wedding photographers who look up to you/are newer than you in the business
Other wedding photographers who consider you a peer/equal
People in other areas of the wedding industry - florists, planners, venues, designers etc
People who are not yet engaged (they may not even have a partner yet) but who have fallen in love with you and your work and know they want to book you when the day comes
People who are engaged and are actively looking for a wedding photographer on Instagram
I would consider the last three in particular your most valuable resource.
Peers and industry pros are great referral sources and worth the time getting to know and support in any way you can. If you have a nose for avoiding the selfish people out there and instead focus on those who share your "community over competition" spirit and approach they WILL return the favour and your kindness every chance they get.
The key to grabbing the couples who are planning a wedding and are actively looking for someone like you, is:
Frequency: Post consistently, if possible 3-4 times a week (you can easily skip Sunday if you want as that is the slowest day of the week) and if it feels like too much of a task, use a planning tool so you can create a whole week's posts at a time and schedule them.
Timing: Post the same time of day every time.
Engage: Make sure you are engaging on IG yourself around 10-15 minutes before and after your own post goes live. Like, comment (genuinely! using 4 words or more and never comment using just emojis) If you leave 100 meaningful comments, expect to get about 10 back. You have to live with putting alot more into IG than you get back.
Hashtags: Use only relevant hashtags. Make sure to use all 30. Do some research. Make sure you include both a few general/big tags, a handful of very specific/small/local tags, as well as several medium sized ones. If you use only hashtags with more than 1 million posts chances are your image will immediately ”drown” in a sea of new posts. Try to make most of your hastags ones that have less that 300.000 posts. Build up a database of hashtags if you will. I have all mine as a note in Evernote and just copy paste relevant ones into my scheduling program. Every time I discover a new great one, I add it to my list.
In the Resources section you can find my current ongoing list of Hashtags which you are free to pick and choose from (except for the first one of course ;-) and come up with your own personal signature hastag, that others, both clients and collaborators, can also use when they post one of your photos):
The final element and your best chance of catching clients who trust you from the beginning, who are emotionally invested in your collaboration and are a perfect match for you is to create a more personal and story-telling account, instead of just one iconic wedding image after another. To connect with people who share your interests, values and tastes, and who will, as soon as they get engaged, write YOU, someone who they already trust and like. This is the path of least resistance.
As we discussed in the Module about branding, we all innately want to be liked. But don't be so afraid to scare people off. This is also true for your Instagram presence. Be true and be real, and if someone doesn't like you they were never your client to begin with. everyone follows of their own free will!
What type of account should you have:
To make it easier for you to create a plan to follow and develop an approach to posting that fits your personality and ambitions we can roughly divide Instagram accounts into 4 types:
(I can't take credit for this, as it is the work of one of my business mentors Jasmine Star (who also used to be a wedding photographer in case you don't know her already)
Informative (the majority of posts are helpful with tips, how-to's and advice) This would be a good type of account if you are a photographer catering to other photographers, where the ultimate goal is to sell workshop seats or online courses, presets, etc) @christinagreve and @thenadiameli are both good examples. If you are an expert in your field and passionate about helping others. But I guess it could also cleverly be used to offer valuabe information for brides and couples on planning the best and smoothest wedding day as well as lots of tips on how to get the best wedding photos and work well with your photographer, how to choose a wedding photographer etc. The list goes on.
Lifestyle If you are more than happy to step in front of the camera yourself and make your brand personality driven. This is the account type for you. If you consider yourself a tastemaker and can be the driving force behind the brand you are showcasing. Alot of fashion bloggers and mommy bloggers fall into this category, and to be honest I struggled a little to find wedding photography accounts in this category, but someone like the carismatic @andrialindquist often shares personal photos among her pro shots, and her strong personality oozes out of every caption. Someone like Jasmine Star would definitely fall into this category, also for example @localsmilk and many others in the entrepreneur/business/life coach areas. This means that actually there is kind of a gap in the market for a wedding photographer who would be willing to put themself out there. Don't think of it as self-promotion or being full of yourself. It just means that you are creating an account where your followers will connect just as much with you as with what you do and that is a GREAT starting off point for working together on their wedding day.
Speciality This type of account works incredibly well if you have a very niche based business which includes most wedding photographers ( like for the past 3 years I have been very niched by the narrow nature of my location and type of weddings I shoot (I only work on Aeroe island which is a very small geographical area, and first I narrowed my focus to intimate weddings with no more than 50 guests and finally last year I narrowed it down even further by offering only elopement shoots) Having an account like this is all about highligting the ways in which you are different or specific. Don't try to cater to everyone, actually cater to as few as possible. Be really really specific about what you do, and every time you think you can't possibly make it more niche, try narrowing it in again, until you hit that absolute core and then highlihght it in every way you can. That way you will also be very appealing and an obvious perfect match for the exact type of client you are looking for = ideal situation. By being SO specific your followers will most likely also be more loyal and more engaged. This is also a great type of account to create if you want to focus far more on your service/product/client than on you as a person. Examples include: @thekitcheners who focus heavily on couples eloping to Scotland or similar moody types of landscape and who are not just willing but happy to spend their entire wedding day walking through mud and mountains on the wedding day, with a heavy focus on intimate, emotional, and reflective atmosphere. @ferjuaristi incredible focus on unusual compositions and unexpected moments. His client is definitely niche looking for a special experience and even more so a very unique photographic result. My dear friend @amandathomsenphoto has also created a rather niche business here in Denmark taking on only "alternative" couples and weddings.
Aesthetic This type of account is ALL about visual consistency and beauty. It works exceptionally well if you shoot film (like @jenhuangphoto or @lauragordon) or if the artistic expression is your number one priority and attraction like @kellesauer @mafyno and @jeannidunagan If you want to create an account in this category it is of utmost importance to curate your gallery. It's not just about every single image, it is also very much about creating a gallery that flows as a whole. Aesthetic accounts also often stray from the traditional square IG format and create custom borders to create more of a gallery or fine art kind of feel letting each image stand against a clean white background. If your strenghts include curation, styling and perfectionism this type of account is for you and can help you attract a very stylish, artistic and sensitive client.
Choose one of these branding categories and stick to it. Post about 80% brand related and the rest can be anything you want as long as it visually (in terms of editing, light etc) fits in and feels consistent when you look at your images as a 9 grid.
Even if you shoot weddings and that is your number one income, your instagram account does not have to be a weddings only account. An account like India Earl's although it is full of only professional shoot images and not really any personal photos still isn't just a wedding account. It speaks to a very specific kind of person, a certain kind of attitude and lifestyle. Free spirited, outdoorsy, nature, untraditional, on the road kind of feel.
Some photographers who show just weddings:
And some choose to seperate their IG life and work into two accounts, giving potential clients the choice of how much they want to know (about) you. You can still link to the other account in your bio. Examples include:
Katch Silva: @katchsilva - @sheepfeet
Susan Stripling: @susanstriplingphotography - @susanstripling
Jess Craven: @daringwanderer - @missjesscraven - @jesscravenphoto
or me: @camillajorvad - @camillajorvadcreative - @sigridsminde
Before I close the book on this chapter, I have one final and very important note to make: Be kind to yourself! I really mean this!
Find inspiration and motivation to pursue your dreams by looking at other photographers' work and IG and lives. But... when it comes to comparison, just don't! Never compare where you are now to what you see on your favourite photographers' accounts now. Go back, scroll down to their beginnings and compare yourself to that instead (if you must) although no comparison at all would be best.
Jasmine Star’s recent posts:
India Earl's recent posts:
Jasmine Star's gallery back in 2012:
India Earl's gallery back in 2014:
I chose already from the very beginning of my business that Twitter was not for me. Being clever or funny in writing is not one of my strengths and it wasn’t an area that I was interested in exploring. I prefer to do a lot of my ’talking’ through my images, and just found that Twitter would not be a great way for me to display my business.
I used to have both a personal page and a business page on Facebook. Whether or not Facebook is good for your business depends on what type of client you want/have. My clients are very private people, many of them do not even have a facebook account, and many of the ones that do are not active on Facebook. But if your ideal client is on Facebook all the time, and is the kind of bride who will eagerly share and tag her friends in her wedding images, then Facebook is an amazing marketing tool in so many ways. I mostly used it to keep up with past clients, congratulate them on their 1 year wedding anniversary, or send them a gift when I saw they had a baby. It is also a great way to connect with your clients after they have booked you to build trust and a relationship leading up to the wedding day.
New platforms keep popping up all the time, and I highly recommend staying in the loop and at least do basic research when one does, because all research shows that the earlier you get on a platform, the more success you will have if it gets big. But don't spend sleepless nights worrying about all this stuff, because in the end this is not what will make or break your business!
Sign up to Onlypult and plan out 9 IG posts using the guidelines above regarding content, timing etc!
Set aside 30 minutes a day to engage with other relevant accounts/people you love. Work intentionally on your account with the same determination that you approach any other part of your business. Over time it WILL pay off.
If it is not already, make your bio pic on Instagram, and any other social media platforms you are on, the same as your bio pic on your website (or at the very least a photo from the same shoot/series of images) so it all feels connected.
Add personality to your IG bio text that fits your overall 'voice' or mood online. Are you calm and quiet, maybe include your favourite inspirational quote. Are you loud and fun, show it!
Delete any recent and old photos in your IG gallery that do not fit within the overall aesthetic and colours or vibe of your online presence. Even if it means you have to wipe the slate clean completely or if it leaves only 4-5 glowing branded images, it is still better than confusing potential followers and clients by being all over the place. If you do as I say and post every day, you will quickly create a lovely new full gallery of images
Check that your active website link in your bio is working and leading to the page on your website where you first want potential clients to land, it could be your about page, or your blog, or your front page with your eye-grabbing best images. Or use a service like LinkTree to create several links within the link if you have 3-4 of your best weddings or helpful posts on your blog that you would like to showcase.