[So you’re wondering how to use the many online tools to market your business. This week I’ve decided to start a new How To series that does exactly that. We’ll take a look at many of the different online social sites –things you can do for little to no cost – and show you different ways to put them into your marketing mix.]
Flickr is one of the hottest online social tools that allows you to share your photographs. Flickr was started back in the beginning of 2004 by two game designers who wanted an easy way to share photos that featured their gaming project, and quickly blossomed into something much more. Yahoo purchased Flickr for $35 million in 2005, and the rest as they say is history.
So if you are a photographer, chances are you have used Flickr in some manner. You may have an account. You may have uploaded a few images. You may be active. But in the land of “free”, how can you use Flickr to attract clients to your photography business?
The secret lies in thinking of Flickr as an extension of your business. Its not just a casual site where you can put up a few images of your clients, share it with them, and allow them to send their images all over to friends and family – before they’ve paid you for your services. Instead, you have to look at Flickr as another sales tool – without treating it like a sales tool. After all, the worst thing you can do is get to salesy on any social networking platform.
Start With Your Flickr Account
How is your Flickr account set up? Is it based on a cute nickname (i.e. photogirl123)? Or is it based on your company name?
When you think of Flickr as an extension of your business, it’s easy to see how you should set up your account. Title it by your business, personal or website name – which ever makes the most sense depending on the way you market your business. Once your name is established, build your profile and your groups to support your branding and your business.
Marketing on Flickr
First, let me emphasize you cannot use a Flickr account for commercial marketing – check both Flickr and Yahoo policies. Posting your photographs simply to advertise your business is against the policies.
That said, it takes just a little thinking to find ways to let other people know about your services, and take full advantage of the entire community Flickr offers.
Obviously you want to start with the Pro account – for so little money, you have a lot more flexibility in building up your different photo streams. Flickr asks you to describe yourself in your profile – fill it up with your information, including your studio, what you do, how you shoot, what you love about it – basically your About Us from your website. Keep the sales pitch to a minimum; just share what brought you to your business, and why you love it. Use your company logo as your buddy icon, and you are ready to begin.
Then start uploading quality photographs from your shoots. Not every image from every shoot. Hand select your favorites – the best of the best. If you are shooting regularly, you should be able to add images every week, which will quickly accumulate. NOTE: These don’t have to be your clients’ favorites; they have to be your favorites. What do you want to show and do more of? Also work to promote yourself through your vendors. Show images of the catering staff setting up, the band, or the reception area.
Make sure you write appropriate descriptions for each image. These aren’t sales messages. They are stories about your photography. “This is my favorite image from last weeks wedding in Aspen, Colorado…” Also use tags that are appropriate for your photos and your business. Again, don’t overuse this from a sales perspective; just be specific for each photograph.
Then join groups and be active. If you are a wedding photographer, join every wedding group you can. Not just for “wedding photography”, but also for your local locations. In the above example, a group in Colorado or Aspen could give you just as much exposure as a photography group. Remember, your potential clients are active in a lot of ways. If they are planning a wedding, they may be looking through a variety of groups.
Also, if you are a destination photographer, you would have even more opportunity. Look for groups that stand out in the location of your choice. Just make sure you can support it with your photography.
Take part in the community as well. Comment on other photos. Create a favorites list. Take part in discussions. Every time you take action, your name screen name shows up. Which means free advertising.
It doesn’t take a ton of time either if you plan it right. Spend an hour in the early morning or late evening a few times of the week to work your social sites. If you plan it, its easier to accomplish.