How Photographers Can Monetize Their Unique Skills Through Social Media
Social media has created a whole new economy and opportunity to build a business. Whether you're using social media as a marketing tool to promote an offline business or using it as the portal to your services, you cannot understate the value of these opportunities.
Photographers, in particular, can capitalize on this visually-driven channel. Here's everything you need to know about how to monetize your unique photography skills on social media.
Showcase Your Portfolio
The most straightforward application of using social media to promote your photography skills is to create an online portfolio. Use your social media channels to highlight your best work to convert customers via a session booking.
This strategy is ideal for wedding and family photographers— those who offer services to the average consumer. The secret to selling your services via social media is by taking a passive sales approach 80-90% of the time. In other words, don't just use your platform to push sales. Instead, let your photos speak for you. Focus on nourishing your audience and building a rapport so that when you post a promotion, customers are warmed up and ready to book.
Become an Influencer
Love it or hate it, influencer marketing is the real deal. It's expected that brands will invest upward of $15 billion annually in influencer marketing by 2022.
As a photographer, you hold the key element of successful influencer marketing: creating beautiful photos.
Use your skill to position yourself as an influencer, securing brand partnerships and showcasing products and services with your images. Again, nourishing your audience and developing a trusting follower base is essential for success on social media. As you build your brand, remember that it only takes one poor experience to lose it all. Ensure that you're only working with companies and products you trust.
Work for Other Influencers
Many photographers feel more comfortable behind the camera rather than being the focal point. If you can't imagine yourself as an influencer, consider offering your services to other influencers and brands.
Take some time to learn the nuances of social media photography and how to position yourself to brands. Offer your services as a content creator, scheduling regular photoshoots with influencers or businesses that need to fill out their content calendar.
This business opportunity is multi-faceted. As the brand photographer, you'll get paid for your time and skills. Furthermore, you'll get free marketing in the form of photo credits when a brand or influencer shares their imagery online and includes attributions. Consider making tags and attributions a part of your client contract to ensure you get the credit you deserve. You can also offer a scaled-up package for those who don't want to tag you every time.
Sell Photos to Businesses
Rather than working with brands and influencers to create custom photos, you can take a more generalized approach and sell high-quality stock photos.
The benefit of this approach is that brands aren't buying exclusive rights to your photo. That means you can sell the same photo numerous times. The downside is that your photos will likely sell for a nominal fee. As such, there could be some days when you only make $15 from your work.
Selling stock photos is a great side hustle on your core photography business. Depending on your niche and skillset, there's plenty of opportunity for growth and success.
Use Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing often goes hand-in-hand with being an influencer. Some brands offer a percentage of sales gained through your partnership (this is also something you can negotiate for). While this approach is profitable, you can also use the same approach to enhance your photography sales.
Consider offering an affiliate or referral marketing plan that encourages your audience to share your work and bolsters your sales. Provide a unique link to each of your affiliates to track which sessions, stock photos, etc., are sold through their efforts.
Tips for Monetizing Your Social Media
The benefit of the monetization strategies on this list is that you can choose more than one. Once you decide which approach is right for you, it's time to consider the implementation process.
Here are some practical tips for setting up your social media for monetization success.
Get a Scheduling Tool
Consistency is everything when building a social media audience and monetizing your efforts. However, social media scheduling and management can be a full-time job.
A social media scheduling tool like Sked Social can help you automate the scheduling process, helping you post consistently without taking up your valuable time. This tool is also great for tracking analytics and determining what's working and what isn't with your audience.
Post Creative Captions
While your photos will do most of the talking for your business, captions are also an important part of the social media game— for Instagram, especially.
Engagement is measured by interactions with your posts. One of those interactions is the time spent on a particular post. For Instagram, the baseline is a three-second pause. It might not seem like much but consider how quickly you can scroll through and double tap for a like.
Posting creative captions encourage viewers to slow down and spend time looking at your content. As such, your engagement and reach will increase.
Clarify Your Niche
Take some time to clarify who your ideal customer is and what specific subject matter or styles they're interested in. For example, saying you work with influencers isn't specific enough. Saying you work with female fitness influencers who have a goal of growing their audience helps narrow down your targeting when positioning your photography services.
Niching down won't limit your reach as a photographer. You'll still get followers who appreciate your craft, even if it isn't relevant to them. However, having that targeted approach will make your following more likely to convert, as they feel a deeper connection with your content.
Engage Your Audience
Remember that posting beautiful photos, writing amazing captions, and choosing the perfect hashtags aren't enough when trying to monetize your photography via social media. Be an active participant in conversations. Respond to your audience, ask them questions, and get to know your loyal followers.
Engaging with your audience builds trust and brand loyalty and helps boost your reach and engagement from an analytics standpoint.
Track Your Metrics
Finally, learn from the data that social media provides. Your metrics and insights can tell you what your ideal customers relate to and what subject matter you should move away from. Look for common themes, like posting times, days, and subject matter. Use this data to craft your strategy.
There are endless opportunities for monetizing your photography skills through social media. Take some time to determine which avenue speaks to you, and start posting.
Featured image by Andre Furtado on Unsplash
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