I firmly believe that every photographer who either has a large amount of desire to share his/her work or who wants to go pro, should have a blog, a podcast and a social media account like Twitter. You may prefer to use UStream or BOO as your podcast. You may like micro rather than macro blogging. You may prefer Facebook or FriendFeed to Twitter. It’s all good. Do something.
Assuming you are going to do SOMETHING, here are some tips I’ve found useful as I use these communications technologies to spread the word about my work.
These tips have all worked for me. I don’t offer them as a set of rules or even guidelines. I offer them as pure information that you can use or ignore. Just remember, they worked for me.
1. Remember that blogs, podcasts and social media sites WHEN COMBINED are 10 times more effective than when used alone. When I JUST blogged, I had a good audience. When I started podcasting and blogging, my audience grew much larger. When I added social networking (Twitter) my audience grew tremendously. If you do just one of these things, you’ll see benefit. Do all three and you’ll see that benefit multiplied by more than three.
2. Blogging, podcasting and Tweeting are all about communicating. As photographers, we all feel the need to communicate. Otherwise we wouldn’t make and share photos. Remember that you need to be accessible to communicate. I put my telephone number, email address and snail mail address out there on almost everything I do. I want to be reachable. What’s the point of sharing a photo that moves someone if they don’t have a way to respond?
3. Respond to your audience when they ask for help or ask a sincere question.
4. Ignore your audience when they are complaining due to their false belief that they are ENTITLED to something from you other than the free gift you give them of your time. Also ignore trolls. No good can ever, ever, ever come of responding to them.
5. Try to use your blog, podcast and Twitter sites to solve problems. Everyone likes a problem solver.
6. Be consistent. Blog or podcast once every hour, or every day or every other day or every other week, but be consistent. This applies less to Twitter but you should try to Tweet at least once per day to keep your followers interested.
7. Don’t spend too much time worrying about SEO and search marketing. If you offer targeted, niche content of high quality on a regular basis, you’ll outscore the best SEO-driven site every time.
8. When you first start out in blogs, podcasting and social media, listen first, talk second. Listen more than you talk. Only talk when you REALLY have something to say.
9. When you launch, you’ll have few in your audience. Be patient. Don’t start counting followers on Twitter until you hit 1000. Then you have real traction. Until then, you’re just ramping up and still learning. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. It took me one year to get my first 4000 Twitter followers. It’s taken me 10 months to add 31,000 more.
10. Be generous. Be generous with your time, your knowledge and your gifts. Yes, prizes and giveaways are a form of generosity. It’s a form I use well and often. But you need to also be generous in human ways in order to gain real traction.