The idea that your followers don’t matter as a photographer holds some truth–in certain circles. But gaining followers, people who love your work, and your own community of fans can help photographers in many, many ways. One of the best ways to get these followings is through social media like Instagram, EyeEm, Facebook, etc.
Followers have been likened to a form of currency in the world: as have likes, retweets, etc. But most photographers don’t understand it; and those who get burned out with social media may not realize just how valuable it can be.
So what exactly can a photographer do with a large following. Let’s start with the obvious:
- Promote their work
- Use it as a way to promote themselves and a validation tool to show that many folks care about their work. That then translates into getting their work into galleries, magazines, publications, campaigns, etc.
- Find new clients
- Interact with potential clients and fans
Those are just some of the more basic ways that photographers use social media and this is done through their own specific content strategies in the same way that they develop blog posts and email newsletters. But these days, you also consider something else that most folks wouldn’t necessarily understand: the fact that they have a following that listens to them with baited breath.
So how is that important? One word: sponsorships. Photographers with large followings are contacted about promoting products or services all the time through their own Instagram, Facebook etc. And with the larger following, you have a platform where you can monetize anyone who wants to reach out specifically to your followers. At that same time though, it’s up to you to be discerning about what to take deals on.
Now you may ask yourself: why does this matter when all a photographer does is takes pictures?
That statement couldn’t be anywhere further from the truth. Professional photographers take pictures, edit, market, network, do social media promotions, plan shoots, have client meetings, etc. A photographer these days is a social media manager, accountant, creative consultant, creator, etc. It’s part of the job–and any photographer that gets into the business side of things always understands that.
Of course, a social media following really depends on what market you’re targeting. If you’re going after a group of people that aren’t always glued to their phones or social media networks, then it may matter less. But to that end, you’ll need to do more interpersonal communication work and also have a lot more face time with your clients and potential clients.
On that tangent though: isn’t the point of trying to become a professional or semi-professional photographer all about getting your name out there? And for you, what could possibly be the best option?