The internet is saturated with wannabe photographers trying to promote their work. People are launching new websites, opening Instagram accounts and Facebook profiles, joining online galleries, and finding other ways to show off their skills and prove that their images are worth paying attention to. All photographers need to build an online audience.
The high number of photographers online makes sense-the internet is incredibly image-heavy, so we will always need pictures. However, how are you supposed to distinguish yourself from the crowd? You already know that your photography needs to be good; there is an abundance of advice and countless guide books available that can help you hone your craft, which is essential for success, but the business aspect is another matter.
How to Build an Online Audience
Is there a tried-and-true strategy you can leverage?
Like photography, building an audience is an art, not a science, but here are a few pieces of advice for getting your name out there:
Work With the Right Platform(s)
First, decide on the platforms you are going to use the most. You will stretch yourself too thin if you attempt to share content on a website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Steller, Flickr, Trover, etc. What is your subject matter, and who do you want your audience to be? Who is most likely to be interested in your work? You want to go to online spaces where they are, but also use channels you get the most joy out of. If you don’t find success on one, you can always try another-just remember that no matter which one you choose, building a follower base will take time.
Hone Your Style
This tip is more along creative lines, but it’s worth repeating: if you want people to pay attention to your photography, to keep themselves updated the way they do with other kinds of artists, then it helps to have a distinct style. Keep your skills wide-ranging and flexible, of course, but you want people to be able to recognize that a photo belongs to you even if they haven’t seen it before- “Oh, this photo looks like X’s work.” When you produce work that is identifiably yours, people are more likely to follow your name, your brand, instead of whatever tag they were searching.
Provide Value Through Your Photos
People are also more likely to follow your work if it provides value. Anyone can make images that are pretty to look at-but what are you showing people that they are not seeing? What subject matter, what composition, what stories can you convey that they are not getting anywhere else? Your picture of a mountain landscape might appear stunning, but how can you present it in a new way that makes people appreciate it all over again?
Post on a Consistent Basis
It’s also strategic to post regularly. You do not want to overwhelm your followers with dozens of photos every day, nor do you want to post once a week and hope that people remain engaged. Your followers will grow bored with either end of the spectrum, so publish new images at a frequency that gets people excited without frustrating them. If you have a website, remember to use URL shorteners great for marketers and link to your site when possible so that newcomers can see your entire body of work.
Listen to What Your Followers Are Saying
Pay attention to what your followers say about your work, with and without words. Are you receiving all sorts of positive comments? Excellent, that means people are enjoying that kind of photography. If they are primarily negative, then shift your approach. The number of likes and shares speaks volumes about how much people appreciate a piece as well, so the more engagement a post has-of any kind-indicates what track you are on.
Engage With Your Audience
Do not simply post photos and hope that people flock to them. Exceptional photography is not created from a void; people want to know about you, as a professional and a person, and they want to see that you are actively engaged with your audience. If someone finds your Instagram account and sees that you only publish your work, you will appear at a distance. If this same person sees that you respond to comments and answer questions, they will know that you are an accessible artist who appreciates their followers’ thoughts-and they will be more likely to share their own.
Network With Other Artists
Don’t be so determined to distinguish yourself from other photographers that you isolate yourself. You want to belong to the art community, so follow other artists, comment on their posts, share their work, and celebrate their successes. Reach out to other professionals and tell them how much you appreciate their talent and ask for insight into their processes. Cultivating relationships with other photographers increases the likelihood that they will promote your work for you, and you can, therefore, tap into their pre-existing audiences faster than you could have built one of a similar size manually.
Growing a follower base is not an easy feat, but it’s possible when your photos are unique, and your strategy is adaptable. These are all excellent ways to build an online audience. Try these and put your own personality into them. How will you build your online audience?