LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, Google and other Personal Marketing

I have been a member of LinkedIn for a while. Everyone told me when I was getting ready to move from Alaska to Colorado, “You should join LinkedIn.”  Ok.  So I joined.  But I did not do anything with it.  I added a few people I knew, but no one in the Colorado area and not many in the Photography industry.

I also have a Facebook page for my photography.  Most of the members there are my friends from my personal Facebook account with a few friends of friends.  But, again, not a lot of new, in my new area followers.

Social Networking is the marketing of the future.  We have all heard that, we have all seen it.  So, how was I going to market myself in a new area?  My main source of marketing is right here, at www.carlauerphoto.com.  Anything and everything I shoot goes here.  Wildlife, sports, senior photos, news (breaking or feature), and reviews of gear that I do. But how to get it out to the world?

Part of getting found is not being a good, great, or awesome photographer.  I have seen a lot of photographers that have crazy awesome talent that no one has ever heard of because no one sees their work.  I do not want to be one of those.  My income relies on image sales, existing clients, and new clients.  So how do I reach them.  How do I let them know what I have shot, what I am doing, and how to contact me?  I work hard on this photo blog so that it looks nice and presents my work in a way that I am proud of and that stimulates visitors to the point that they want to hire me.  SEO is one way.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is extra work that I do on my website, on each post and on each photo on my website.  By using keywords, naming images, naming posts in the html link all help in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo find me.  It has taken a year, but I am starting to pop up now in the top 15 for many searches looking for photographers in Colorado (specific searches like “MLS Photos Colorado” or “Colorado Sports Photographers”)

My photo archive also helps.  I have it linked to this site, but it is hosted at PhotoShelter, and they have their own tools for SEO optimizing, which helps when searching for photos.  And I have a plug in on this website called Share This.  This allows me to share my blog posts to my Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.

Facebook.  It is more than just having a page to post images or updates to.  Using my Photography page is just one way, and having it as an open group, people can find me through various searches and join to keep my photo updates in their news feed.  But it also allows me to share photos with people who do not know they are there.

When I photograph something like a high school sporting event, I look to see if the team has a page on Facebook and I will post a link to where they can find the photos and to my blog.  If they do not have a Facebook page, I look at Twitter, Google +, and at their school website to see if there is a message board.  It is a little work, but if it results in traffic to my website and sales, then it is worth it.

With Twitter, it is one thing to post a link to a photo gallery or my blog.  Who will see it?  Most likely, only people following you.  But if you tweet with a hashtag, then you greatly increase your chances to be seen.  With high schools, I like to tweet something like;

“Photos from football game with #CityHigh and #EastCityHigh are up at /http short link/ #copreps”

Hashtag’s for the school help to ensure that anyone looking for their high school on twitter, it pops up, and the #copreps I use for Colorado Preps, which most people around here seem to use for Colorado high school sports tweets.  Before you hashtag, do a search.  Some schools have nicknames, or abbreviations that they use instead.  However, hashtags are not always needed, you can usually getaway with “copreps” instead of “#copreps” and still be found.

Google + I am still learning.  The Circles and all can be a bit confusing, but when I post a link to my photo blog or to a gallery, I make sure it is visible not just to my circles, but to everyone, so when someone does a search, it pops up.  Also, having a Google + account can help increase your Google search hits.  A search for something specific on my website through Google might bring you to that page in the top 15 or 25 hits, but with a Google + link to my blog, I am on the front page, sometimes in the top 5.

Now, back to LinkedIn.  When I first started, I added people I knew from my contact list.  But, I was having problems figuring out what to do with it.  My background information on my profile was the same thing I had on my web page, Facebook page, just about anywhere I could have an about page it was the same information.  Now, I link to it from LinkedIn, and on my LinkedIn background I have a brief, nutshell version, telling my experience, who I currently shoot for, and what I am looking for/offering.

I updated my LinkedIn profile with all the companies I have shot for, I follow companies and groups in my area of interest and expertise, and I have started adding to my network.  LinkedIn takes a look at my profile and recommends people to connect to.  And these people are the ones I want to see my work.  Photo editors for Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Getty, USA Today and other major outlets that I want as my clients or to shoot for.  I search about every day looking for new people to add, but I am selective.  While I love sports, I do not shoot everything, like professional cricket, or Aussie Rules Football, so I tend to steer clear of people in those industries.  I would love to be contracted with a soccer team, so I am connected with many team photographers or media personal with MLS teams, and I am working on some FIFA contacts.  Same thing with MLB, NBA, colleges.  I want to find clients in the areas I excel in.

Then, to utilize those contacts, when I make a blog post, I share it to my LinkedIn contacts.  So, hopefully an editor from a major publication sees something that they like, or a team executive takes notice and wants to start up a working relationship with me.

Beyond these social networks, I am also a SportsShooter.com member.  SportsShooter is a network of working photojournalists, editors, college students, interns, event photographers, and more.  Each member has a personal page to present work, be contacted through, and is a great resource.  I have been contracted a number of times through SportsShooter for some high profile shoots.

Another site I use, but very sparingly, is craigslist.  You can find some great photographers on craigslist, but they are mixed in with a lot of wannabe photographers.  Just looking at samples or links that some people put up on craigslist really show that they just bought their first ever camera and without any formal training are trying to pass themselves off as working professionals on craigslist.  Typically, when I use craigslist is when I need subjects for test shoots.  Currently I am looking for a recumbent bicycle rider and a fit jogger and BMX and Skater park riders to do some lighting test shots for some upcoming high profile shoots.

I guess, the thing I am getting at is, to be successful at a career in photography, marketing is as important, if not more important than the photography itself.  Make sure you understand the fundamentals of photography, produce consistently high quality photographs, and market your self to the best of your abilities.

I invite you to click the links bellow to join me on LinkedIn, follow me on SportsShooter Facebook, Google + and Twitter.

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