Business

7 Ways Use Social Media to Grow Your Photography Business

June 25, 2021

I know that social media can often feel like just one more thing in the long list of responsibilities of running a business, but it’s so important. Maybe even more important than any other marketing efforts. If you do it the right way, you can use social media to grow your photography business, and I […]

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I'm a photographer, educator and soon to be podcaster. I left teaching in the classroom to build a thriving photography business. and inspire and teach other like-minded women how to build, scale, and create a photo business.

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I know that social media can often feel like just one more thing in the long list of responsibilities of running a business, but it’s so important. Maybe even more important than any other marketing efforts. If you do it the right way, you can use social media to grow your photography business, and I promise, it doesn’t have to take over your life! 

At the end of the day, social media is about connection. If you can show up there intentionally (and that doesn’t mean all day every day), you’ll have opportunities to connect with your dream clients and industry acquaintances.

It’s the space where you can share your most recent work, tell stories, humanize your brand, and network—without it feeling like networking. Plus, as great as a photography website and portfolio is, it’s just not the most convenient space to update or for people to find you. You can immediately upload recent work onto social media, and you have a way higher chance of someone finding you on social media than stumbling onto your website after a Google search. 

But how do we do it well? Without it taking over our life? Here are my top tips for using social media to grow your photography business.

1. Focus on your niche.

As much as social media is a snapshot of our lives, when we’re using it for business and marketing, we want to be strategic with what we share. If you’re posting travel and sunsets and your family at breakfast and your dog and only a few images from shoots occasionally? Well, it’s just not the best representation of your brand, and your ideal clients won’t be able to clearly know what you do just from glancing at your page.

Post images of the kind of work you want to continue doing and booking. So if you started out by shooting senior portraits and family photos and the occasional wedding, but you’d like to transition to ONLY weddings, then I recommend posting mostly wedding content, even if it’s different shots from the same few wedding days.

If your feed demonstrates the kind of work you enjoy doing, that’s the kind of client who will gravitate toward you. On Instagram especially, I like to keep in feed posts more professional and mostly post images of shoots with clients, but with stories and reels, you can post more fun, “real life” content.

2. Don’t get caught up in the numbers.

It’s so hard, but likes and followers are truly vanity metrics. They may matter to a certain extent, but they get you more “cool” points than business points. And cool points don’t pay the bills. What’s way more important than numbers is your engagement. 

When someone comments or messages you, do you always respond genuinely and quickly? Do you reach out to other photographers you admire and comment on their posts? This is a great move because, if you make a practice of it, their followers will begin to notice your name coming up regularly in comments and eventually venture over to your page.

3. Pick strategic platforms to show up on.

Photography is a visual industry, so Twitter might not be the best platform for you to share your work regularly. I’ve found the two best platforms for photographers are resoundingly Instagram and Pinterest. Any highly visual platform that prioritizes static images will benefit your business by showing up there regularly (so, not really YouTube or TikTok, which are video platforms).

4. Be real & put some thought into captions.

While I want you to keep your images strictly focused on the kind of work you want to continue booking, that doesn’t mean you can’t put your personality into the captions. In fact, one of the biggest differences between photographers on social media with outstanding engagement and followings vs. just so-so is the ones who post real, authentic, honest captions and stories generally attract more (and higher quality) followers.

Think about it. We’re all on social media to connect with one another. While I fully believe a beautiful image CAN make you feel something, it can be so much more impactful to share a meaningful story or touching anecdote along with it. Whatever you do, try to avoid only posting short, undescriptive (aka… boring) captions every single time. Sure, occasionally you just need to get a post up and don’t have time to write a paragraph. That’s fine! But make that the exception, not the rule. 

5. Find local professionals to trade with.

One of my biggest business growth hacks is reaching out to hair and makeup artists in my area to see if they want to trade! I offer to take photos of a client of theirs in exchange for them using the photos and tagging me in their social posts. It spreads the word about my services, style, and skill-set quickly, and I get to meet new people along the way!

6. Post consistently.

One of my biggest personal hang-ups with social media is all the rules around it. “Post 5 times a week! Never post in the morning!” I’m sharing tips that have worked for me, but they are totally flexible to work with your own lifestyle and goals. That’s why instead of posting a certain number a week or time of day, I aim for consistency. 

Consistency looks different for everyone depending on your bandwidth and season of life you’re in. Maybe that’s one post a week, maybe it’s three, maybe it’s five. Whatever will work for YOU on a consistent basis, stick to that. People will begin to notice your rhythm and count on you to show up at that time, which is a good thing!

7. Utilize strategic hashtags.

Bleh, hashtags. I know, they’re sort of this tricky mystery and/or annoyance to everyone. But I have a super simple trick to using them! Simply create a bank of hashtags to pull from for every post. You can keep it in a note on your phone for easy access!

Build your bank by pulling hashtags from posts that other creators in your niche use. Bonus points if the creator is local to your area and uses local hashtags. The general rules for hashtags are:

  • You can use up to 30 on a post (although 10 specific ones are way better than 30 random, vague ones).
  • You can’t use the same set of hashtags on EVERY post, or else IG will penalize you.
  • The hashtags with under 100K uses perform best.
  • You want the hashtag to be aligned with the content of the image (so if it’s a picture of a dog, you wouldn’t hashtag #duck, and so on).

That’s it! With these simple tips and tricks, you’ll be growing your business using social media—without being stressed out by social media. I can’t wait to watch you take these strategies and run with them!

Looking to get more raw, real photos at every shoot?

Download my free guide for capturing the most pure & emotional images of your clients!

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I’m Jillian Goulding, a photographer and educator raising babies and building my life in Sacramento, CA.

Over the years, I’ve transformed my side hustle into a thriving photography business that has taken me and my camera to the beaches of San Francisco Bay, the pages of People Magazine, and the screens of Extra TV.

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