6 Must-See Photography Portfolio Websites

You know that Virtual Photography Studio likes to keep you updated on all the latest trends in digital marketing and social media for wedding photographers. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and newer platforms such as Viddy are all great, of course, and they stand to help you increase your visibility, as well as your revenue. However, they’re not all there is to it. On this great, big Internet, which also includes business pages and blogging, there’s also a special niche for portfolio websites. And if you’re at all serious about wedding photography (or any other form of visual media, in fact) you have got to be aware of them. Of course, no one expects you to keep track of them all, since there are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands out there. That’s why, in today’s post, we’ve rallied up the top 6 must-see photography portfolio websites.

Behance

6 Must-See Photography Portfolio Websites01

By far the largest and best known of all the must-see photography portfolio websites, Behance is a free platform with millions of visitors at global level. You can easily customize your portfolio and there’s also no limit on how many creative projects you can upload to the site – be they photos, videos, or text entries. Another boon is just how seamlessly the site integrates social media tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and plenty of others.

Viewbook

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It’s been around since 2009 and was founded in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Its pricing scheme is subscription-based, with plans starting as low as $4 per month. While other sites on our list of must-see photography portfolio websites cater to various types of artists, this one is geared specifically toward graphic designers and photographers. The rendering for mobile devices that this site offers is incredible and it also comes with great social media support for Tumblr, Facebook, and other platforms.

Cargo Collective

6 Must-See Photography Portfolio Websites03

This portfolio website offers pricing schemes in a freemium regime, which essentially means that you can sign-up and use it with limited functionality for free. However, if you want access to all the features, you will have to shell out upward of $9 per month. On the plus side, Cargo Collective has got one of the best integration systems for communities – and its community really is active and vibrant. On the downside, it’s not as easy to customize your portfolio here, as it is on other sites. As such, if you know nothing about code, perhaps you might want to look elsewhere.

Wix

6 Must-See Photography Portfolio Websites04

Like Cargo Collective, on Wix you can sign up for free, but might want to pay for the extra features. A premium subscription will cost you at least $4.08 each month and the site is relatively easy to use. Unlike other must-see photography portfolio platforms on this list, this one is also accessible to artists who don’t have much experience with web development and coding. Also, the kind of website it creates for artists comes with an edge, compared to some of the other platforms: the sites are Google optimized.

Fresh.li

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Easy to use and optimize, as well as loaded with a lot of goodies aimed at optimization, Fresh.li costs EUR5.75 per month. You can alter the fonts, colors, logos, and many other things on Fresh.li and can even use a personalized domain name on this website. Another plus: you don’t have to pay up right from the beginning, as the website offers you a free 30-day trial, albeit with limited functionalities.

Carbonmade

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The “hassle-free online portfolio” experience offered by Carbonmade really requires no knowledge of HTML and the site is massive already. It hosts over 600,000 portfolios, most of which are owned by photographers or graphic designers. It may not be the best choice for videographers, but for a $12 monthly subscription, a wedding photographer could definitely benefit from being on this website.

Making Them Pay For Social Media

Don’t you just hate it when a client “lifts” an image that you’ve created for her to use on her social media sites? They simply don’t understand copyrights and assume its okay.

And what are you to do? You can ask them to take it down and pay you for the image. But then you have a very UNHAPPY client. And with social media, that could be a fire storm.

So you let it go … and lose money.

The problem is most of us think in the “old” world. We still think 8x10s and 16x20s.

We don’t think Facebook and Google+.

But what if we did?

Talk with a high school senior, and they want images for online use. They want a new Facebook profile or a Google+ cover image.

Talk with a business person and they want a photo for their latest website and a cover image to match for their Facebook page.

But of course, they don’t know how to make it professional. So they stick an image – possibly the one they bought from you scanned into their computer – and they plop it into their profile.

The problem is they don’t understand sizing or how to make things look great by following size guidelines. So they get this:

Social Media 1

Or this:

Social Media 2

Instead of this:

Social Media 3

What if you gave them a package of online graphics instead of a package with 8x10s? Create a social media package that’s fresh, creative, and perfectly proportioned for all online needs.

Start with perfectly sized graphics especially made for the top online social sites. Here’s a sizing cheat sheet to keep the dimensions on file:

 

How to use social media for your photography sales

 

Click to view the entire cheat sheet

Then create packages that your customers will want to buy.

  • Maybe a Facebook package that includes:
  • a Facebook cover photo that integrates perfectly with the profile picture
  • a Profile photograph
  • a Newsfeed image
  • an Ad image

All created to make adding to Facebook easy … and look great too.

You can create separate packages for each social site, or mix them up a bit and include different things from different sites.

You can create several packages and offer “discounts” if they purchase more than one social package.

You can give “discounts” when they purchase a traditional package with a social package. Use your imagination and have fun with it.

Really, the opportunities are endless.

And the more creative you are with your designs, the more you can charge. Look to these for inspiration.

 

Timeline cover 1

 

 

 

Timeline cover 2

 

 

10 Things You Should Be Reading About Social Media

One of the hardest tasks during your workweek isn’t keeping up with clients or handling your daily production … its keeping up with the latest information on social media.

Every day something new is released in the social realm. Facebook adds a new feature. Or Google+ promotes a new way of doing business. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you quickly find out you don’t.

The only way to stay on top of it all is to spend a few minutes each day learning something new. Reading about it isn’t enough – once you read it, implement it.

Here are 10 things you should be reading that will help you even better at marketing your photography business through social media.

1. Find out the state of the blogosphere

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Every year I head over to Technorati to read their latest State of the Blogosphere report and find out a little more about what people are thinking online. The 2013 copy is out and can help you plan how to grow your online presence by seeing what everyone else is up to.

2. Use Twitter when people are on Twitter

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Did you know 57 percent Twitter of users communicate with people near them? Meaning if you are trying to build a business in your local community, Twitter is a great way of letting them know what’s happening right now. This study will give you plenty of ideas on how to use your Twitter account more efficiently.

3. Sizing your images for social media

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Ever pop in an image into your Facebook header or your Twitter account, and have it all out of shape because its not the right size for the area? Use this Social Media Cheat Sheet to create the perfect size every time.

4. Think Instagram is just for mobile? Think again

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No matter where people are – sitting at their desk or on the go – Instagram wants you to have access to all of your favorite images.

5. Ever heard of the Facebook card?

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A new gift card has hit the scene. The Facebook Card is a renewable gift card that anyone can load up with funds from a variety of places – all on one reusable card. No more holding onto multiple gift cards from separate locations – everything is conveniently in one place.

6. Pinterest on the go

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If you don’t have the ability to use Pinterest on the go, make sure you get the latest Pinterest iPhone and iPad app. It makes everything from posting, to editing, to commenting a little easier. And it’s a great way of being able to do a little posting no matter where you are or how much time you have.

7. Share quotes, ideas and thoughts a little easier

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Love seeing bold, beautiful quotes come through Facebook or Pinterest? Give Boldomatic a try. This new app is a fun way to get your thoughts out there in a Bold way.

8. Video on Twitter? Try Vine

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Graphics make your newsfeeds. And with Vine, you can have a short, looping video to grab their attention.

9. Get more into marketing with Glyder

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Glyder is an iPhone app that allows you to share graphically pleasing marketing updates in an easy way. Use one of their predefined templates help share information, encourage them to check in, offer a daily deal, or even run a giveaway.

10. Use Panoramas on Tumblr

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Have a Tumblr account? Are you using the new Panorama feature? Just one more way to stand out from the crowd.

Appearing Like Your Social Media Savvy … Even When You’re Not

Time. It’s the one thing that always holds you back and gets in the way of creating your picture perfect business.

Appearing Like Your Social Media Savvy

When time is a factor, we all tend to drop the things we don’t enjoy. Or drop the things we feel like we don’t have enough information to do it the right way. And for many of us, that’s social media.

Sure you’ve opened up your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts. But where do you go from there? So your Facebook account becomes neglected, and your Twitter account sits dormant month after month.

While taking the “out of site, out of mind” approach is something we all fall into naturally, by doing so may actually hurt your brand down the road. A non-active account signifies to a potential customer that your business may not be running efficiently. If you can’t keep up with your social accounts, will your customer service really be much better?

The good news is you don’t have to be a social media expert to expand your presence with minimal effort. Here are six ways you can appear like your social media savvy … even when you’re not.

1. Only speak when you have something to say. Social media is a learned task. If you sit down and quickly try to decide what’s relevant in your life and how it pertains to your customer base, you’re likely to hit a brick wall. Start out small and think about what you’re followers would like from you. Make it relevant to your business – what you had for lunch will never motivate a client with a new baby. Talk about things important to them, and include things that will help them get to know you as a person and as a business owner.

2. Be responsive. The only way to connect online is to connect. If they comment or ask a question, answer it in a timely manner. Address every legitimate comment you receive and keep the conversation going from day to day.

3. Create a posting calendar. Everyone always asks what the key ratio of posting should be – should you post once a week or once a day? There really isn’t a correct answer. Instead, you should create a calendar that’s right for you. Can you post once every morning at 8am without much trouble? Then do it. Can you post several times per day with your mobile? Do that. Just make sure you are consistent from week to week, giving your audience exactly what they expect.

4. Automate your activity. While consistency is important, there are ways to automate the process, giving you even more flexibility in when you post. Tools such as TweetDeck and HootSuite allow you to feed in posts to all of your social accounts, and calendar them for a date and time that is beneficial for you. I love these tools because they allow you test your market without having to work 24 hours a day – maybe you’ll have more success by posting at 10pm on Thursday nights. You’ll never find out until you give it a try.

5. Find great content. The easiest way to post great content is to find it first. In every industry, there are a variety of sites that can provide you with things to talk about. Find active sites – chambers, portals, associations and news sites – that post content all the time. Then browse through them on a regular basis to gain ideas or links that you can spread through your own account. Remember, you should never self-promote all the time. Instead, you should be an information site that provides ideas and resources that are meaningful to your followers.

6. When all else fails, hire it done. As a sole business owner, there are only so many tasks you can complete in a day. Don’t think of it as a failure to hire someone to take over a part of your responsibility. Instead, look at it as hiring someone to help you grow. While you should always have a thorough understanding of what they are doing for you and monitor it along the way, keep in mind that an extra set of hands really can help you gain the business you are looking for.

20 Instagram Accounts That Will Help You Build Your Own

Looking for a social site that can help you promote your photography? Maybe its Instagram.

Instagram has been rapidly growing over the past couple of years. And in a recent press release, their newly announced statistics are definitely something to make you sit up and take notice.

  • 90 million monthly active users
  • 40 million photos per day
  • 8500 likes per second
  • 1000 comments per second

That’s a lot of traction And if you’ve been using social in any way over the past year, you know that the potential lies in the action – and 90 million active users means there is a lot of action.

  • Facebook has 1 billion monthly active users
  • Twitter has 200 million monthly active users
  • LinkedIn has 160 million monthly active users
  • Google+ has 135 million monthly active users

When compared to other active social platforms, Instagram is definitely handling its own space very well.

While you may have opened an account and posted a few images, are you using Instagram in the right way? After looking through a wide variety of accounts, there are a few rules that will help you dominate the Instagram field.

Dig Deeper: Following Trends and Using Instagram

Rule #1 Post Interesting Images

That sound simple enough, but this is where so many people get it wrong. They take the “cheesy” and “smile at the camera” shots when they’re out and about. Or they put the focus entirely on their brand rather than showcasing their talents and what they can do. Instagram is simply another portfolio of who you are and what you can do. Yes, you could share some of your clients’ work. Yes, you could share interesting photos taken while you’re “in the field”. It is up to you, but the overall goal is to be interesting and get people to enjoy what you have to offer.

Rule #2 Post Like Clockwork

What makes social work? Consistency. If you post once in January, again in March, the following September, and maybe something in December, how many followers are going to follow you? Or maybe you haven’t posted in months, then share 25 images in 3 minutes? Unfollow. If your followers expect it, they accept it. And are far more interested in developing a relationship with you.

Rule #3 Post Often

Slightly different than rule #2, this rule makes sure you use Instagram in a way that gains attention. What would happen if you posted 1 image every day at 6am EST? While you may gain traction that way, you’re probably not gaining instant viewership – how many people around the world are looking at 6am EST? Consistency means posting 5 days of the week. Often means posting 10 times throughout each day. Together it means understanding your audience and giving them exactly what you promise them. Again and again.

Rule #4 Build Relationships

Like every other social site out there, it isn’t all about you. Yes, as a photographer you can post your images and move onto your other daily tasks. But if you want to create an active brand through Instagram, you have to engage your followers. Instagram uses hashtags as well – use them to connect with people and respond to their @replies. You can even create themed hashtags and have people submit things to match your ideas or contests. Instant engagement … and the more you do it, the bigger you’ll grow.

Rule #5 Create themes

Even though you post regularly, you can separate out your photographs into themes by using hashtags. And again, it doesn’t all have to be about your professional services. Yes, you can #babyportraits or something else related to your business. But what about #perfectsunrises if you are a morning person and spend 7 days of the week running as the sun rises? Or #Ilovebeaches if you travel a lot and always end up staking out your space on some of the best beaches in the world? Get creative. That’s what draws the attention to you.

I believe you can learn something from everyone. So if you want to make it big on Instagram, you shouldn’t just look at “professional photographers”. You should also look to some of the top accounts on Instagram and find things they are doing right. And when you do, use that to build up your own account. Take a look at these top 10.

 

Instagram For Photographers Victoria Secrets

 

1. Victorias Secret

 

Instagram For Photographers Starbucks

 

2.Starbucks

 

Instagram For Photographers E Online

 

3. E Online

 

Instagram For Photographers Nike

 

4. Nike

 

Instagram For Photographers Burberry

 

5. Burberry

 

 

Instagram For Photographers Redbull

 

 

6. Redbull

 

Instagram For Photographers H&M

 

7. H&M

Instagram For Photographers Adidas

8. Adidas

Instagram For Photographers Billboard

9. Billboard

Instagram For Photographers Celtics

10. Celtics

 

Next lets look at some photographers on Instagram. They may not have the numbers of Victoria’s Secret or Starbucks, but their images speak for them.

Instagram For Photographers Scott Rankin

1. Othellonine

Instagram For Photographers Adam Senatori

2. Adam Senatori

Instagram For Photographers 13th Witness

3. 13th Witness

Instagram For Photographers Hirozzzz

4. Hirozzzz

Instagram For Photographers Sam Horine

5. Sam Horine

Instagram For Photographers Mike Kus

6. Mike Kus

Instagram For Photographers Alice Gao

7. Alice Gao

Instagram For Photographers Jimmy Chin

8. Jimmy Chin

Instagram For Photographers Keith Ladzinski

9. Ladzinski

Instagram For Photographers Scott Rinckenberger

10. Scott Rinck

 

 

3 Keys To A Successful Marketing Plan That Targets Women

As a photographer, are you reaching out to women?

Depending on your niche, your primary target may be almost exclusively women. If you’ve been throwing your marketing dollars at a variety of things with none of them really sticking, it might not be the source … it may be the approach.

Throughout history, women have always had the upper hand in decision making when it comes to spending the family’s money. Yet in the online world, many brands have forgotten the female approach, and blast out content with little regard for who their ultimate target is. And why they are there.

With social media, women use it because of the connectivity and engagement. As they move throughout their busy days, social is an easy way to find out what they are missing with friends and family, whether they are in carpool line with the kids, or waiting for a meeting with their next client. Smart technology has given us one more way to multitask, and we can now learn all we can in the spare minutes we have.

A recent survey conducted by Women’s Marketing Inc and She Speaks published some interesting findings that can help you as you plan out your next marketing campaign.

A Woman’s First Source of Information Every Day is The Online World

 

Over 77 percent of women surveyed stated their first connection with the outside world is made through their smartphone or computer. They don’t flip on the television or turn to the daily newspaper – they check in with their newsfeeds bookmarked on their online devices.

If you want to be a “blip” on a woman’s radar, you have to be a source in their information. They don’t look for advertisements or rely on push advertising. Instead, they want to find out what is happening with the things they care about. They want reliable content that makes sense to them and who they are. Provide them with quality content in the resources they care about most, and you’ll connect. [Read more...]

5 Reasons Why Its Time To Dump Pinterest As A Marketing Tool

I’ve been talking a lot about Pinterest over the past few months. Pinterest continues to be the fastest growing online social network, with current stats showing a growth rate in excess of +4,377 percent over the past year. Compare that to Twitter’s growth of 58 percent, or Facebook’s growth at 4 percent. Yep, that seems like something worth talking about.

But is Pinterest really the best choice for you as a photographer? Can you benefit from pinning your images on pinboards? Read on to find out why it may not be the right fit for you.

1. You aren’t a regular visitor to social sites.

Pinterest has many, many categories and posts that are updated literally by the minute. If you don’t visit on a regular basis, you will quickly fade into oblivion and end up at the bottom of your followers’ feeds – a place that does you know good. The less you post, the less chance you have of finding people that love what you do, share what you do, and convert from followers to paying customers.

2. You focus in on B2B niches.

What niche are you going after as a photographer? If you are photographing widgets for the oil and gas industry, they probably aren’t on Pinterest. If you photograph business portraits for CEOs of major corporations, they might not be on Pinterest. If your focus is on the commercial side, concentrating on annual reports and industrialized photography, Pinterest may not work for you. You have to know whom your target is and how to reach out to them.

3. You’re not the content provider type.

When is the last time you changed your website? When is the last time you wrote up a new marketing piece for your business? If the word “years” appeared in your answer, you probably haven’t grasped the concept of content marketing yet. What makes social work is creating content and giving viewers what they want. Some will convert, most won’t. Yet it’s the content that drives people in and helps boost your traffic in the online world. If you haven’t worked with content marketing yet, there are other areas easier to start with than on Pinterest.

4. You don’t have regular access to the Internet.

Are you a travel photographer always out in the field? Is the “field” for you miles from anywhere, no electricity in sight? Do you prefer spending days in the wilderness with only the stars above and the animals as your companions? If you can’t post on a regular basis, it may be easier to add your images to your own sites when you have access instead of trying to market with Pinterest.

5. You market your photography to men.

While men are coming on board to Pinterest slowly, its still predominately female oriented. That’s because of the visual nature of the application, and the fact that females love to share what they love – fashion, foodie, arts and crafts.

Did you see yourself in any of the above statements? If so, you may do better with other marketing tools.

But if you found yourself disagreeing with the statements again and again, it may be time to jump on board with Pinterest.

I’m such a huge fan of Pinterest, I’ve just released my newest ebook The Photographers Guide To Pinterest, available in both PDF and Kindle.

Its designed to provide you with an easy way to sign up for Pinterest, build your account, and quickly create a ton of traffic to bring in people as fast as possible.

Learn more here >>

The New MySpace For Photographers

Yes, there’s a new social network in town. And after we’ve traveled through MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, what’s next? Surprise … its MySpace.

MySpace? Yes, you may have thought that was a dying platform. But they are currently in the process of re-releasing it, and it may be a great contender for photographers.

While you don’t have access to MySpace quite yet, there is definitely a major buzz going around in the media about it. And part of that comes from its newest owner, which is none other than Justin Timberlake. Timberlake purchased MySpace last year with Specific Media for $35 million, just a tenth of what Rupert Murdoch purchased it for a few years before. And while even that may have seemed a bit too high a few months ago, the new look they are showing off could mean it was well worth the price.

The new MySpace has several things going for it.

First, MySpace will be a very multimedia rich experience. Yes, it looks a little bit like Pinterest. What makes Pinterest one of the best medias out there for photographers is the visual nature of the site. So with MySpace taking on that same look and feel, it could be a game changer.

Next, rumor has it you won’t have to start from scratch with your friend list. Instead, simply import your friends directly from your Facebook account and you’re up and running with several hundred or several thousand friends, depending on what you’ve currently built. That instantly makes this platform a game changer, and will put it miles ahead of what Google+ attempted to do.

Finally, MySpace is already thinking about the post-PC era and has built its platform to look and work well on a tablet. People spend their leisure time with mobile – tablets and phones. They don’t want the PC experience – they want the ease and accessibility of the tablet experience. If MySpace truly has incorporated this look and feel into its mobile platform, it could instantly move ahead of its competition.

While you can’t sign up and start building your MySpace account yet, you can leave your email and expect an invite soon. I highly recommend you do so. It may just be the next best thing.

8 Things That May Be Keeping Your Social Media Profiles From Looking Professional

As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably run into many times where you start something with great intentions, only to find you end up ignoring it throughout the year simply due to lack of time. If you have portrait sittings, files to edit, and clients to meet, do you really have the time to stop and edit your Facebook profile?

Since social media networks change their structure every couple of months, its easy for your profiles to lose their professional look and feel – leaving your business to look like a true “mom and pop” place. If you haven’t made your social profiles a priority lately, use this list to do a little profile cleaning and bring your online persona back to a modern day look and feel.

Facebook

Pages cover images should attract attention, not monetize your business
Facebook has made a number of layout changes since the beginning of 2012, most notably the introduction of timelines. Instead of being able to choose which “page” your Page opens up to, Facebook now has one standard look and feel. Your cover image is what introduces visitors to your business, and it should be representative of your business without selling them. The cover image should be 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall, and to make it load quickly, make sure your JPG file is less than 100 kilobytes. According to Facebook guidelines, covers may not include calls to action, price or purchase information, and they may not ask for “Likes”. Comply to make sure you aren’t shut down after you work hard to grow your followers. [Read more...]

What’s The Best Way To Promote Your Photography Business – With A Pinterest or Facebook Contest?

The only way to succeed with social media is to have a following. And the more time you spend building your following, the more results you will see.

And people love free stuff. They are completely attracted to coupons, deals of the day, and anything “fun” that will allow them to get a hold of a great product at a great price. Which is why many smart businesses have turned to social media contests.

Dig Deeper: How To Start Up A Pinterest Contest

Dig Deeper: The Guide To Growing Your Facebook Page With A Contest

However, the social media platforms and the rules to follow are always changing. What worked a few short months ago may be “illegal” by today’s terms. If a contest is in your future, it’s important to evaluate your options regularly and choose the right platform to grow – the right platform to attract quality prospects to your studio. [Read more...]