ALL IMAGES (C) LAWRENCE CHAN
Lawrence Chan is a social media and marketing pro. While he makes his living as a photographer, he also runs the very popular marketing blog, http://www.tofurious.com/, and has released a number of ebooks on how to market yourself online and in person. I’ve been following his blog for some time and have found tons of useful info. I suggest you check it out. I figured he might have some very interesting things to say about young photographers that are just getting started, so I shot him an email with some pointed questions. Here’s what he had to say:
When I started to learn how to cook, I burned one of the most fundamental un-burnable items, water. I'm not even joking. I had to boil water to steam my tamales. Without supervision, I boiled away the last vapor of water, which led to the burning of my pot, my tamales and nearly my kitchen. I was petrified. Only if there was someone to advise me beforehand to constantly check the water level or to add more water than prescribed in the recipe. These simple tips would have safeguarded me from cooking apprehension.
I have made many mistakes in other areas as well, such as photography. Thankfully, I have rectified and learned valuable lessons in the art of marketing. The following are responses to some questions that PDN Emerging Photographer thought to be useful for photographers starting out in the trade.
What is the one online marketing tool every photographer should be using?
It goes without saying that you fish where the fish are. Therefore, depending on where your target audience enjoys hanging out, that is the platform you will use.
If you have no reference, you can use Facebook as a starting point. Facebook is the most widely used social media medium. Additionally, Facebook dedicates a lot of visual estate to images, so it is preferred by most photographers. There is a good chance that your audience is using Facebook. If you leverage Facebook's connectivity, such as tagging clients in photos, your name will be populated quickly to said networks.
If you could only have a profile on one social media platform, which would you use and why?
Similar to the aforementioned response, since Facebook is the most popular platform, I would advise using it until circumstances change. What is wonderful about Facebook is that you can use it professionally and personally. Professional pages could be used to connect with clients as mentioned earlier. Personal pages could be used to connect with other photographers, which is important as well. Connecting with other photographers and vendors (e.g., florists, makeup artists, magazine publications) is critical. Even though other photographers could be viewed as competitors, it is advantageous to create a cohort of like-minded individuals. One perk could be the sharing of extra leads when a date is booked. Another is the chance to second-shoot for each other. Second-shooting is an opportunity to learn from each other, but more importantly to hang out!
What makes high quality content?
Content marketing is the creation of high quality content worthy of sharing to attract, acquire and engage a targeted audience to drive consumer action. Content strategy includes a slew of informational content – written and/ or a combination of other medias, such as photos, videos, infographics, Q/As, case studies, newsletters, how-to guides – that is findable, readable, actionable and shareable. The purpose is to create valuable information on a consistent basis to inspire your readers, instill loyalty and evangelize your clients. An example for wedding clients is a post on how to properly wear a suit / tux or techniques on tying a bowtie. You'd be surprised at how many men do not know the correct ways. The utmost objective of content strategy is to help your readers. Sow the seeds first. Reap the rewards later. Eventually, trust is built and prospects will sell themselves.
What are two tips to getting people to engage online?
Piggybacking on the previous response regarding content strategy, you have to create content worthy of engaging and sharing. Content does not always need to be how-to guides, even though those are very useful. The following two tips are universal with almost all audiences.
- Funny or Inspirational Content - Procurement of funny cat photos or sharing of inspirational quotes generally render positive emotions, thus positive feedback.
- Food - Quite frankly, I do not know of anybody who does not like food. Sharing of food photos will cause hunger and / or dining inspirations.
Use these two tips as a way to kick off engagement with your online community!
How do you know what keywords will get your website found in search engines?
Being found on search engines is a process called search engine optimization (SEO). It all starts with the goal of your optimization efforts. It is difficult to get into specifics because of the wide array of crafts. The most important thing to consider is your target audience. Think about the keywords they would type into search engines (e.g., Google) when looking for your services. Your goal is to be a top result, so that they may discover your talents. Of course, there is a lot of technical aspects that go into web optimization. In fact, I have written many tips and an e-book entirely dedicated to this subject.
What is the most common mistake you see photographers make in marketing themselves online?
A common pitfall I see is excessive self-promotion. Do not get me wrong. It is important to share your latest portfolio shoots. However, if your entire online feed is about photo shoots, it can get boring. Getting your clients to know that you know how to use a camera is important. Getting your clients to engage with you is, in my humble opinion, more important. With digital DSLRs, there are countless excellent photographers out there. Is the ability to take a good photo sufficient in garnering business? Clients can be picky now with the surplus of talent. On top of photography skills, they want someone fun and relatable. Hence, be relatable! If you do not know how to be relatable, go back to the previous responses and start with food. Everybody loves food.