Last year was all about finding myself as a photographer and lucky for me many of you resonated with my words and followed along. While I'm not giving up that side of the blog I do want to focus on more current issues in my life. See, I'm not the struggling photographer I once was when I started the blog, I've developed a style I think I can consider my own and I have a clearer vision when taking my photographs.
The next step for me is growth and getting my pictures seen. Moving forward I want to focus more on how to get your pictures out to the public. With current technology we all know how to take a photograph, hell many of us can use our iPhone or just switch our cameras into auto and get a proper exposure, but how do you get people to see your work? Well that's what I'm going to try and answer today.
Instagram is hands down the biggest platform for photographers at the moment, it's the easiest place for people to go look at your photos, it's also the most saturated platform out there. Over the last few months I've been able to nearly double my Instagram followers. How? By engaging. Engagement is everything, it's content in it's on. Staying consistent in uploading to Instagram is vital, but it's engaging that's going to help you grow your brand, not your photographs.
Follow me on Instagram
That's not where it stops though, there plenty of other strategic ways to get out there. Here is a list of 5 things you should start doing to help heighten your growth on Instagram.
1. Ask Questions
This is a huge one for me. People do not ask enough questions on Instagram, often times we'll go to a page and say "Nice pic" and keep it moving, that's great, but everyone is doing that. Really engage, comment and then ask the right questions. Get to know your follower. Recently I had someone write me a mini paragraph, they let me know how much they liked my photographs and then they started to talk about a post from my blog... Bonus points, to finish their statement they asked how old I was.
Now maybe my age doesn't matter, however, I'm sure what they meant was how experienced are you, but that question got a response, we went back and forth a little bit, chances are if your dialogue is similar then you'll get a follower and now you have someone interested in your work.
2. Respond To Comments
Don't limit yourself to just asking questions to followers you want to connect with, talk to the people on your page too. As a photographer it's common to get a "nice pic 👍" from a random Instagrammer. The typical response is always "thank you". Stop doing that, thank you is a conversation ender, no one is going to keep complimenting you. Really talk to that follower. Hit him with a thank you and then again, ask questions.
You have to treat everything like it's face to face. If you were in public and someone said "hey great suit!" and you just said "thank you", they'd probably walk away. But if you said, "thanks I actually got it on sale at Mr. Porter, my name is Keenan by the way, are you into fashion?" Well now you have some decent dialogue going on.
Related: Engagement is Content
3. Hashtag Immediately
Hashtagging is frowned upon by many, but it's important to get the right people to look at your photographs. Hashtagging brings a select crowd to your images. Be sure to use the right ones to go with your photograph. Having a hard time keeping track of them all? Download the app TagsForLikes, they also have a pro version that's $2 in the App Store. This pro version of the app allows you to store custom hashtags that are ready to be copy & pasted at the price of a button. I organize mine by camera brand, I have some for my Fujifilm camera (street and portraits) and then some for my iPhone and GoPro as well. Remember you can only use 30 hashtags on an Instagram post, so use them wisely.
Once you figured out your hashtags then be prepared to post them as soon as your photograph uploads. It's important that you do this as Instagram, as I mentioned is very saturated, so the longer you wait, the less impressions your photo will get. I always put mine input mine as the first comment, that way when people start to engage on my photo that aren't visible to the general public.
4. Find a Common Interest
Your photographs are personal, these are moments in which you documented to share to the world. You love them and chances are other people do to, but people aren't always comfortable commenting on such things, many will like and keep it moving. The key is to build engagement, to do this you may have to switch it up at times. I first realized this when I began posting pictures of my Fujifilm equipment, it was a refreshing scene from the black and white photos that I typically posted and these are my most popular photographs to date on my Instagram. I was lucky enough for Fujifilm to pick up a few, my photograph was actually the most popular photograph on @Fujifilm_NorthAmerica Instagram. You can bet this brought in a few followers, it also brought in the followers I wanted (this is important), I know had people who shared a like interest in my camera equipment, this is going to for sure produce future engagement down the line.
5. Tag Your Friends (& Companies)
Taking photographs of others is a great way to expand your community. It's not something I necessarily specialize in, but I have friends that have built a little community amongst themselves and have seen great growth from this type of marketing. I first learned about this on Tumblr, you and your friends simply repost pictures of each other, tag and shoutout them out. Now you're followers are their followers and vice versa.
This also works really well when trying to reach out to companies. I have been able to build solid relationships with companies that I enjoy. If I invested money into a product I'd take a picture of it and then tag that company, chances are they may fall in love with your photograph and repost it.
If you have any tips of your own that you think could help build engagement then please post them in the comments. I was able to provide that have helped me, but everyone has their own unique way of doing things. I'm obviously not the most popular photographer on Instagram, but it's been exciting to see some growth over the last few months. At the end of the day though numbers really don't matter, everyone should continue to post regardless of their follower or engagement count.