I had a great email sent to me the other day. I started out giving her a quick response to her question, and quickly decided this would also make a great post.

“I’m just starting out as a photographer. I want to start showcasing some of my work, but just don’t have the money yet for a site. Is it okay if I put my work on Flickr and Facebook and build my business that way?”

One of the great things about the Internet is you can access a ton of different tools – and most of them are free. But in the end, you really do get what you paid for.

I love Flickr and have a Flickr account. I love Facebook and am very active there as well. And along with many other social sites, I’m spread out all over the Internet, and love how well I can market my business with these free tools. But when it comes down to it, I use all of my free tools to drive traffic back to the one thing I can control – my own site.

With your own site, you can control your:

  • Content
  • Photographs
  • Sales messages
  • Contact information
  • Lead generation
  • List building

And your site is what gives you your professional image. It shows your stability – if you’re willing to spend a little time and money developing your own marketing image, you must be willing to grow your business here and into the future.

You wouldn’t go out to a networking function, and write your name and number on a napkin to hand to a potential client. So you shouldn’t rely on the free social sites to be the exclusive site for your business.

Okay, so you’re still new to the profession and don’t have a ton of money to spend. Simple. Do the work yourself.

Go get a domain name – for $10 a year, it’s a pretty cheap investment.

Set up your own blog format – all that’s required from you is hosting. As long as you can do some of the work yourself, WordPress makes it pretty simple. And starting simple is fine – you can always work into a custom design down the road when you’ve booked a few clients.

Then add things when you can:

  • A shopping cart exclusively for photographers

Then start blogging. You can incorporate your Flickr and Facebook accounts into your blog to connect the pieces. And you have full control over how your image is projected out to your potential clients.

And you’ll have a great start at building towards a successful future.

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