A well-designed personal brand has a direct influence on income and recognition of a photographer and allows him or her to grow and develop professionally. In this article we’ll show you how to create and promote your own brand as an example for photographers. However, virtually all the recommendations are applicable to other professions. Read on and adapt it for yourself!
Chances are you already have personal social media accounts. You’ve created them as pages about yourself – it’s a great self-presentation experience. When creating a personal brand, analyze what you want to take from your own life, what you want to add from your professional sphere, what chips to spice things up from trends.
Think about the name separately, because it’s not just your first and last name. It’s your logo, website and social media accounts. It should be readable in both Cyrillic and Latin and memorable to potential clients. Many photographers take pseudonyms, changing either their first or last name. Teachers at our photography school, for example, are no exception: Yustina Valova is actually Julia, and Daria Buslik is actually Firunovich. Replacing a too common name or complicated surname with something unusual or, conversely, simple and bright is a very good step for building a personal brand. For example, you can add understandable endings to your name and surname, which immediately outline the professional direction of your account: nesterov_photography or bd_pictures. Successful naming is half the battle.
Of course, for a photographer’s business card is his photographs, a harmonious portfolio that gives the most accurate picture of his professionalism. However, to develop a personal brand, it’s important to have photos of yourself, not necessarily self-portraits. A cobbler without boots is not a photographer with a strong personal brand. So you’ll need to be concerned about photo content, with you at the centre of it. And this content needs to be of exactly the same quality as your work, so that the account looks harmonious. Clients need to see the kind of person they will meet in the studio or on set, so the photographer regularly needs to become a model and appear in the subscribers’ feed not only with their own work, but also with their own face.
There is a very high demand for quality visuals on the internet right now, so a good job as a photographer is highly valued. The important thing is that your work and contacts are easy to find online. But to get your name into the search bar, you need to be seen by your potential audience. The more people who know about you, the more money you can make. If you’re a really cool photographer but only 10 of your friends know about it, you won’t make a dime on your talent. So from the very beginning you should be concerned about creating your own name and promoting your talent through available platforms on the internet.
Photographers work in completely different areas:
In addition, there is now a very actively developing area for creating content for social networks: family shoots, business photo shoots, and travel photos.
Photographers don’t just shoot for a living. Experienced professionals, when they reach a certain level of professionalism, reach the expert level and share their knowledge with newcomers and colleagues, sell online courses or teach classes in photography schools. Sometimes they even open their own photography schools and become entrepreneurs.
As a rule, photographers start with one-off shoots and work on their own. But there is a variant of work for the company: work in a photo studio, in a photo studio, in a printing salon, in editorial office. It is very prestigious to be a photographer for a popular brand or agency such as Getty Images.
There are pros and cons to working for yourself and your company. If you’re an in-house photographer for a company, you don’t have to worry about promotion and your personal brand: you get assignments and fulfill them, being able to concentrate on your own development and creativity. But you’ll be dependent on the schedule and workload that the company will provide you with
If you are self-employed, you should be engaged in promotion and search for orders on your own. You should spend your time on attracting and communicating with clients, you should study marketing methods, set up advertising, keep an account in the social networks. But with self-employment you are free to take a sabbatical at any time, take a photography tour, take a training course, work on a cruise liner or the ocean.
Choose a work format that suits your personality, lifestyle and professional interests
To create a personal website, you no longer need to hire a developer. A website can easily and simply be made on a constructor like Tilda. For photographers, there are special website builders designed to present visual content, such as Vigbo or Wfolio. After watching just a couple of training videos and examples of other sites, you can create your own site to your liking. Using a website for a year will cost you about as much as 2, max 4 hours renting a photo studio.
But the site is not enough to create – it needs to be promoted. If you immediately set a goal to promote the site in the top ten search engines on the query “photographer + city”, it will have to spend a lot of resources (time and finances) – and not the fact that it will work, because the first pages of output are large photo portals. Moreover, it is not certain that you will eventually receive enough orders to cover all the costs of promotion and SEO-optimisation. That is why you should focus on targeting and contextual advertising, which you will have to do yourself or pay the services of a marketer. This option will help to get interested clients and first orders quickly.
A personal website may represent the photographer better than any aggregator or social networking account, but it will be very difficult to penetrate the search engine and win the battle for conversions and traffic attraction. The only way to find a photographer’s personal website in a search engine is by typing in “photographer+name”. And for that the photographer should be already known and promoted.
Among personal ads there are many more personal websites, but here you pay for each click, so the site should be so selling that at least 5 people out of 100 from you leave a request for a photo shoot. In order not to lose site visitors, you need to work on visual and textual content, usability and website optimization for the needs of your audience, analyze competitors, look for your own uniqueness and test different options of advertisements and blocks on the site.
To summarise, a website can be an auxiliary platform for posting detailed information about a photographer (portfolio, photo projects, biography, experience, services, prices, reviews, contacts, etc.) that does not fit into the same social networks and aggregator sites, or for selling courses, consultations and so on. But a website can’t be the main or only way to attract clients, as it simply can’t be found.
In terms of “attracting customers / promotion of personal brand”, social networks are the most effective. Let’s talk about them.
Social media is the best way to build and promote your personal brand. It is the best way to attract the audience’s attention, tell them about yourself, show your expertise and confirm your professionalism.
Depending on the type of photography you’re working in, you’ll need to determine which social media accounts make sense to develop. For starters, consider your presence on the most popular social media platforms: Instagram and Facebook. It would be useful to consider platforms designed for visual creativity: Pinterest, Behance, Flickr. If you are ready to create engaging video content, make sure you have a TikTok account – all teenagers are sitting there now. Eventually, when you want to share your experiences and knowledge, you’ll need YouTube.
The choice of platforms for developing a personal brand and promoting a business is not just a matter of your own liking for one social network or another. The solvent and active audience, which is used to buying online, lives on Instagram. Analyse where exactly your potential audience is sitting, and develop predominantly there.
For each social network, you will have to select the appropriate content, but all types of content have one rule in common – the content must be of high quality and authorial. So don’t spread out on all the social networks listed, but concentrate on 2-3 promotion channels that appeal to you and contain your potential audience.
For the majority of people the main pain is the lack of high-quality photographic content, for a photographer it is a solved question. Quality photography is all about showcasing your own product, demonstrating your author’s style, illustrating texts and reviews, backstages from shoots, and your own portraits to develop your personal brand.
Social media can be used to show our life values, our personality. This is very important, because it is easier for the customer to choose a photographer, meet him or her on the set and open up after the virtual meeting. Therefore, you can share facts from your own life, motivating quotes, useful tips, interesting insights, processing instructions, location selections, sources of inspiration, secret tips or your thoughts on what is going on around you in your texts.
Become aware of which text variant would suit your photos best, which words you want to share with your subscribers, and which text format you are most comfortable with.
Take care of your speech literacy. If you are not sure, it is better to write texts in a text editor, so that you can correct any mistakes immediately.
The demand for video content is growing, so don’t be afraid to use different applications and gadgets for video shooting: tripod, phone, camera. You can shoot interesting moments in slow motion, or you can fit the entire photographic process into a minute, do video editing, or show in detail how you shot a particular frame. There’s also a goldmine of posing, location preparation and retouching techniques. Such engaging or educational content will be sought after by today’s audiences.
Loyalty to your personal brand will increase if you publish reviews about yourself from real customers. Ask customers to tag you when you publish your photos. This way, you’ll know which photos customers think are the best and you can share them in your Stories.
When getting feedback, you can take screenshots and add them to your piggy bank, such as a saved post.
You can tag your models and thank them for a successful shoot as you publish your photos, and they, in turn, can share these posts with their own impressions of the shoot.
Websites that collect on their site all offers from specialists in a particular field are called aggregators. They are the ones that top the search results for “photographer+city”. Aggregators are the most client-friendly platforms for finding a photographer. The convenience lies in the fact that the client can sort all the photographers by type and genre of photography, cost of services, shooting experience, rating on this site and other parameters. To earn a good rating on a site like this, you need to take care of the reviews and ratings of your customers.
Aggregator sites charge either a fee for placement on the portal or a percentage of your orders. It is also possible to pay extra for premium placement at the beginning of the list for specific queries. But there are also portals with free placement but limited features. Some portals also allow clients themselves to place requests for services, and specialists can then respond and offer themselves as a performer. Here you will need to keep track of fresh requests so that they are not taken away by more clever photographers.
Such aggregators are useful platforms for those who have an underdeveloped social network and has not yet worked well enough word of mouth. Over time, once your personal brand is established, it will be easier to find new bookings through social networks.