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Results tagged “professional photography association” from PPA Today

Spring has sprung! The birds are singing, flowers are blooming and these discussions are hopping on theLoop! Here are the top discussions happening on our safe and secure online community:

If you had a time machine and could go back and tell yourself one thing as you began your journey into professional photography, what would it be? This is a great conversation for veterans and newbies alike!

Are you into commercial photography? Talk tech and debate between Lightroom 5 or Creative Suite 6 for software! 

How much are you worth? Not how much do you charge per session, or how much you have in the bank--but how much are you (the photographer, owner, operator, visionary) of your business worth? Learn how to come up with an answer here.

This is always a popular question! We all have limited resources--so how do you use them effectively in your marketing? Google AdWords? LinkedIn? Facebook? There are an overwhelming amount of options! See what your fellow photographers are doing successfully here.

For all of you Do-It-Yourselfers out there! Save some big bucks by performing your own sensor cleanings, but be sure to read the whole thread. There are some horror stories of DIY gone wrong. Weigh in with your personal stories of successes and failures (there's no judgment here!) 

If you ever have clients that refuse to order at an ordering session--this thread is for you! How do you deal with customers that just don't want to purchase in the studio and only want to do it online? Join the conversation (and learn a few tricks in the process) here!

Sometimes it's nice to not worry about all of the equipment and just focus on the subject matter. Do you have a favorite point and shoot? What do you use it for? Get back to your photography roots with this great thread! 

Don't forget, theLoop is PPA's safe and secure online community where members can discuss various photography topics! Not a PPA member? It's easy: join today!

Written by PPA Member, Michelle Kaffko of Organic Headshots, Chicago, Illinois
Read more of Michelle's blog at organicheadshots.com/blog/

During the last 9 years working as a headshot photographer I estimate that about 95% of the people I've taken a headshot of have made some kind of self-deprecating comment during the photo session.

Such as:

"I'll try not to break your camera."
"I've got a huge nose- just warning you."
"Try not to get my 18 chins in the photo."
"Well it's a good enough photo for what you've got to work with."

I spend about 5% of a headshot session going over clothing options, 5% adjusting lighting, 20% posing and coaching, and 10% actually snapping the shutter button.  And then 60% telling people they're not as ugly as they say they are.

But I get it.  I completely understand.  Because I hate photos of myself too.  Sometimes I look at a photo of me and think I look like a stunt zombie wearing earrings.  And it wasn't until about year 6 as a headshot photographer that I finally gathered the courage to get in front of the lens and book another photographer to take my own professional headshot.

I love being behind a camera, looking through the lens, and capturing fractions of a second of our short time on earth and sharing that with the world.  I love images, imagery, telling stories through photos, and using a camera to paint the perfect portrait of amazing human beings who deserve dignified images of themselves that say, "look people!  I'm here!  And this is how awesome I am."

But if you ever point a camera at me, I will punch you in the neck.
You want to improve your business, make more money, but work less, right? Well growing your operations can now be done from the comfort of your favorite set of pajamas and fuzzy slippers with a live streaming option of the PPA Business Basics March 29-30, 2014. Not only will you be able to participate from the comfort of your own home--you'll save time and money by skipping the trip to Atlanta (although we'd love to see you in person here!).


What's more, when you register you get an additional virtual seat to share with anyone in your studio. More learning, not more spending! And you'll get all of the downloadable materials and the bonus of being able to (re)play the workshop back to pick up on things you may have missed.  

This two day intensive business program will give you the tools you need to improve your business's bottom line. What can you expect to walk away with? Veteran instructor Jeff Dachowski, M.Photog.Cr, CPP explains:

"The top five things you'll walk away with are--(1) you never stop marketing yourself, (2) pricing is key, (3) bookkeeping is not optional, (4) your business is always ready for a change, and (5) marketing is more than having a twitter account."

Whether you've been in business for ten days or ten years, this class can help you turn over a new leaf.  

"Anyone who is in the business of photography, or considering it should think about taking this class. Whether you own your own studio, or thinking about making the leap, this class will help you get ready to be profitable from the start, or correct the course if you are not where you want to be. I think this class is important for any studio to take, because it allows you to focus on the systems and underlying issues that newer and seasoned studios either don't know, or got wrong when their studio was formed."

So what are you waiting for? Register today to be more in 2014! Your business and your bottom line with thank you. Seriously!

This year is flying by - so quickly that Daylight Savings Time is already coming up this weekend. Remember to 'spring ahead' on Sunday! So what are some top posts you may have missed this week? We have the 10 photography blogs from March 2 - 7, 2014, that we hope will inspire you to be more!

Imaging USA speaker, Rachel Stephens talks feel-good inspiration with CreativeLIVE. Go forth and conquer your fears (and your weekend) after reading this one.

Nature photographers often get an unfair rep. PhotographyTalk would like to put an end to it. Here are the 5 myths about pro nature photographers. 

How about a little flash back Friday? Here are 40 photographs that will make you appreciate today just a little bit more and will put the value of your work as a photographer in perspective. Documenting history is one of the reasons why photography will never go away!

Long exposure photography has started to gain popularity over the last few years - here are Digital Photography School's top 8 tips to consider before venturing out to try this approach. 
 
Ryan Williams and SLR Lounge got together to talk specifics when doing portraits in the beautiful golden hour. Talk shop, settings and post processing to get this magical, natural look.

We've all been there--you're contacted by a bride-to-be and all goes swimmingly. You're on the road to a great working relationship when (out of nowhere) she stops returning your calls. SLR Lounge has the four things you can do to fix the situation.  

Thanks to Ellen (and her famous friends), the Oscar selfie seen round the world raises some interesting copyright questions. Who has the copyright on the most shared photo on Twitter? 

This crowd-sourced movie is coming to a theater near you (schedule to be released at the end of the month!) Check out the trailer of this private photographer's work--or if you live in Portland, check it out now!

Getty Images announced they are dropping their watermark from the bulk of its collection this week--and to many WordPress bloggers with no budget, it's looking like a free stock imagery field day! Get the full story from the team over at the Verge here. 

Want to better you black and white photographs? Skip the grayscale button and go for the Zone System! Get a review of it here from Photofocus.

There you have it, our favorite blog posts of the week! Don't forget that you can share your own blog posts, or others that you have enjoyed, on theLoop

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Written by guest blogger, Danielle Brooks

It has only been 34 days since Imaging USA and already my business looks completely different. 

I knew going to Phoenix would radically change my business, I just didn't know how. I hate change, but I know it represents progress. My last article addressed the fact that Imaging gave me whiplash. Now that the pain has subsided, what would my next steps be? I decided to focus on what my business needed most: print products. 

While at Imaging, my main goal was to find a print lab to offer products to my clients. When you start out as a photographer, no one gives you a road map. No one sits down with you and says, "Here's a great print lab. You should start offering these products to clients at this percentage of markup in order to make a profit." And truth be told, even if they did, it would only be a jumping-off point. Only I can know what my market will bear in terms of pricing. So the thought of finding a lab, selecting my products and figuring out markup was a little stressful. 

I visited every single lab that had a booth at Imaging. White House Custom Color met my needs completely. I know everyone has a lab that they advocate for and WHCC is mine. Their representatives in the booth were so helpful and friendly. I appreciated that when I asked a seemingly basic question, they didn't look at me like I was stupid. They answered them in the best way possible. Making sure I had a grasp on their products and how to offer them to clients. This was such a huge help to me as a beginner. 

Next on the list was finding a way to showcase my products to clients and whether or not I wanted to do an in-person ordering session. Since I do not have a studio, I have decided to offer online purchasing. I know many of you will say I'm leaving money on the table, but for me, right now, it works. I would love to do in-person ordering, but you have to start somewhere. 

So at Imaging, I stopped by the Shoot Proof booth. They offer a great option for online ordering. I can select from their partner labs, or add my own and self-fulfill. Their interface is super easy to navigate. I can literally select products I offer, and then add the price I offer them for. 

Another big change to my business is partnering with other businesses. At Imaging I was challenged to look for ways to make connections that would help word of mouth. About a week after the conference, I visited my husband at work and as I was leaving, I noticed a gymnastics place across the way. I went home and thought about ways I might be able to partner with them. Here was a business that caters to children, and their parents are waiting in the lobby for an hour or more a week. What better way to get my name out there as a family photographer than to put my materials in their lobby?

I quickly found their website and Facebook and noticed that they had a crazy amount of photos, but none of them were particularly good. The next week I was able to schedule a meeting with the owner. I explained to her that I was a new photographer to the area and wanted to get my name out there. I told her I would be willing to photograph an event for free in exchange for letting me leave some information in their lobby. Some might frown on the idea of giving away photos, but let me tell you it has come back to me tenfold. 

After the event, she posted some of the photos, and she immediately told me she had parents wanting to buy proofs. She also wanted to know if I could do team photos and sports photos of all the kids. What a HUGE opportunity! It will be so easy for me to talk to the parents about a family session while I'm photographing their kids. If there is ever a way to invest in your community, do it. The results might surprise you.

As things stand now, I am not generating enough consistent business to leave my "day job" but I'm hoping that by planting the seeds now, I will reap a harvest in the future. This year holds so many possibilities and I'm glad I started 2014 off right by attending Imaging USA. I cannot wait to see where my business will be this time next year. 

Happy Valentine's Day!  Here at PPA, we love (Get it? Valentine's Day? Love?) helping you be more as a professional photographer. With that in mind, here are 10 photography blogs from this week, that we think will help make you fall a little bit more in love with the industry.

For the do-it-yourselfers, pyro and light painting fans out there - this is a great how-to for steel wool photography (along with some pretty nifty examples).  Just remember, PPA doesn't condone lighting yourself or your neighborhood on fire.  

Afraid of heights? You might want to skip this one. Two Russian climbers summited the second tallest building in the world (Shanghai Tower) without safety equipment or ropes and caught it all on film. (Please don't try this at home!)

Jim Richardson, accomplished National Geographic photographer, gives you the basics on panning motion photography. Take these simple tricks to the next level.

Ok, we don't love this at all. Facebook made a video saying "Remembering the big day is easier with friends" (you can check the video out on the link). But one creative photographer did come up with a beautiful parody video. 

The article above brought us back to thinking about an infographic from Buzzfeed. If you missed it earlier this week, it's worth the chuckles. (If you have some of your own, post them on our Facebook page!)

Adventure photographer Lucas Gilman talks social shop with the team at Photoshelter. See how 14,000 Instagram followers (and 9,000 on Twitter) has helped his career, creativity and business strategy. 

SLR Lounge has the tip of tips to help you drastically improve your black and white images from bland and boring to (dare we say) majestic. Get the details here, you're sure to find a couple of nuggets for your own business. 

Sochi has caused quite the hubbub leading up to the Winter Olympics- so what's it like now that the competitions are underway? Sports photographer Robert Hanashiro checks in with an up close and personal look at the games. 


Max Jackson, a Florida Atlantic University student, allowed the Color Run to use one of his images on their Facebook page. When he found that image in their print and marketing materials, he asked for some compensation. What happens next will blow your mind. Read on! 

We're not kidding. Make sure to clear the room of children, or adults with sensitive ears because you might be spewing four letter words (and we don't mean l-o-v-e) after reading this post from PetaPixel. Oh! and the comments will be worth your while too!

There you have it, our favorite blog posts of the week! Don't forget that you can share your own blog posts, or others that you have enjoyed, on theLoop

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Written by guest blogger, Christine Walsh-Newton

When I began my journey to being a professional photographer, I was determined to do it right. I wanted to find ways to measure my capability and skills. Ways that would keep me in check and provide me the opportunity to continually learn and improve. 


Through my membership, I may enter the district and international print competitions sponsored by PPA. Through my state affiliate (Professional Photographers of Ohio), I also participate on a local level. 

Each spring, I compete at my state. There, I am allowed to enter six of my best images. Then I choose the four best from that group and send them on to the Northeast District competition. Depending on the results of that competition, I may forward all four images to the international competition in the summer, or I may elect to do some more work on them first. I may even decide to replace them with a different images.

One of the delightful benefits to competition is that you can order critiques of your images recorded by the affiliated judges that were at the competition. I always purchase the critiques and generally follow the advice of the juror who recorded it. I feel fortunate that PPA offers this service. What a wonderful way to get input on our images!

What competition means to me:
Each year that I've participated in print competition, I've learned and I've grown. Sometimes I get decent scores or an award, but the important part to me is that I improve. I listen quietly during the judging and take notes. Even if the judges speak about an image that isn't mine, the knowledge they impart is applicable to my work. Through judging I'm learning the intricacies of lighting, presentation and composition. I learn what color combinations work and which ones are best left alone. I learn the subtleties of posing and body language.

I've learned all these things in a general manner through my own education and study and have refined them through use, but listening to judge after judge make a quiet comment here or point out a flaw there has trained me to look hard at the details. Little by little my work has improved. The subtle differences and changes I have made have started to add up and my work has shown tremendous strides in technical competence in just a few short years of competing.

Scoring is important to me and the fact that PPA has a standard scoring system that is consistently maintained gives print competition the credibility that I need in order to trust that it is a valid evaluation of my work. The judges are thoroughly trained and vetted and must also use the scoring system in a manner that provides consistency. My scores show me where I'm at in relation to standard expectations for photographic quality. In the beginning it took awhile for my work to reach the "deserving of a merit" range of scores, and with hard and consistent work, I've been given the pleasure of watching those scores rise over time.

A benefit of competing that was surprising is the inspiration I've gained from viewing images from other competitors. Over the last few years I've probably watched several thousand images go through judging. The amount of talent exhibited is enormous and overwhelming at times. Other competitors have been generous with their time and advice, assisting me along my journey. Sometimes I think "competition" isn't quite the correct term as my fellow competitors and I seem to have bonded into a beneficial family of sorts. It's rare for there to be competition between competitors that I know and some of my best competitor friends and I share ideas, techniques and images with each other while preparing for competition. Sometimes we find ourselves cheering and commiserating with each other, depending on our results. 

How it helps me grow: 
At my first competition, I volunteered in the print room. After a few hours of unpacking print cases and viewing a large number of exquisite images, I was afraid for my own. I tried to figure out how to "unenter" and hide my print case in my car. I was unsure of my skills and my talent. I was scared. And I was embarrassed to show my work. I was not confident and those first few rounds of critiques were difficult to digest.

Progressively, through competition, critiques, judgings and just plain old networking with other competitors, I am now more sure of what I'm doing and have a higher level of faith in my work. Competition has given me the confidence to recognize when I'm creating nice work. And the humility to realize it when I'm not and ask for help. And when I receive that help, I can now view it objectively and embrace it as part of my learning and growing process. 

Once upon a time I only dreamed of doing well in competition and of learning from photographers who were leading the way. For awhile I thought it was a goal well out of my grasp. Through competition, I've learned to set goals and work towards them progressively so that over time I'd get there. The journey will never be complete, but with the help of PPA competition, it has been a progressive and positive one.

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Written by guest blogger Danielle Brooks

Last night my husband, Rich, and I were lying around reading when he suddenly asked, "Do you know what you're wearing?" 

"To what?" I replied.

"To Imaging USA. It's less than 10 days away now. Do you know what the weather will be like? How about what classes you're going to take? Do you have a plan for the expo floor?"

"Well I have a general idea but I want to be open."

"If you want to make the most of your time there, you've got to figure these things out, Danielle." 

Crap. I knew my husband was right. The time had come to make some definitive decisions. I have been so caught up in the holidays and business that I haven't stopped to plan my course of action, let alone pack. I needed to decide on what to wear, courses to take, and what my plan for the expo floor was going to be.

Last time, I came to the conclusion I needed to take courses related to lighting and posing. But how will I choose when a lighting or posing class is offered at the same time? What about clothing? Will this Florida girl need to bring a coat? I immediately put down my book and did a quick search for "weather in Phoenix." I found that Phoenix is bipolar in that it will be in the 70s during the day, but low 40s at night. How am I to dress for that? 

One of my biggest dilemmas in preparing for IUSA was deciding what to wear. I want to be fashionable, yet comfortable. Professional, but not over dressed. And any outfit I pack needs to be potentially ready for a night on the town with new friends. 

With those guidelines there is a very slim margin of clothes I can bring. I settled on a nice pair of jeans, several three-quarter length sleeved polo shirts, and of course my IUSA15 shirt. I can wear my jeans more than once, and the shirts will help keep me warm in a potentially chilly expo center, yet cool enough to be out and about in Phoenix during the day. Of course tennis shoes are a must. 

But what about the parties? Do people dress up for those? I decided I would make time after I tour the expo floor to go back to my hotel room to change into something a little more fancy. This would allow me to regroup and write down any thoughts about the day. Since it will be cooling off in the evening, I'm packing a nice coat to go along with my outfit. 

Now that my clothes were packed, I started making a game plan for the classes I wanted to take. I methodically went down the list of classes with my husband and decided which ones would be the most beneficial. If two classes I want to take are offered at the same time I checked to see if similar class is being offered at another time. That way I could have the best of both worlds. I seriously love the Imaging USA app. If you don't have it, do yourself a favor and download it. You won't regret your decision. I love that you can star which vendors are a must see and it highlights where they are on the expo floor. You can also select your classes and it will show up on a calendar so you don't loose track of where you're supposed to be. 

Last on the list was planning my strategy for the expo floor. I came up with a list of items I will need going into the New Year. My focus will be on packaging and offering print products to my clients. I was able to use my IUSA app to star the companies that I was interested in learning more about. My first day at the expo will be spent focusing on my needs. That way, I can enjoy focusing on my wants later in the week. I was also able to sign up for the IUSA Alumni Program. They pair off newbies, like myself, with veterans of IUSA. I was paired up with an Imaging USA veteran who will be able to walk with me through the expo floor on my first day. I'm sure he will have a bunch of great tips for talking with vendors to get the best deals. 

Now that most of my plans are set, all I have to do is wait to put them in motion. What's your IUSA plan? If you have any tips or tricks for me, please feel free to share in the comments! Until then, IUSA here we come!

Gmail recently made some pretty nifty changes to their layout, but you may have noticed you've been missing your updates from PPA.  It turns out that many of our messages are now landing in your "promotions" tab.

But don't worry - we're here to fix this!

All you need to do is open the "promotions" tab, click and hold your latest PPA (or Imaging USA) email and drag it to your  "primary" tab (check out this quick video for an example). A yellow box will pop up asking if you want to do this for future messages from PPA? Just click yes!

 

 

Now all of the great membership benefits, educational resources and updates from Imaging USA will be front and center - not to mention available on your mobile devices!

We're thrilled to announce a new member benefit coming your way! Effective November 1, PPA will be making the switch from FedEx to UPS®.

Shipping & logistics are a vital component to every business, so we know this discount is important to you. Rest assured, the new discount from UPS is the best we have ever been able to offer. As a PPA member, you'll save up to 34% on a broad portfolio of services, including air, international and ground services. Plus, savings begin at 70% on UPS Freight® shipments over 150 lbs. UPS understands how important reliability, speed and cost are to meeting your business goals and your customers' needs. Put the power of logistics to work for you. (For the details, log into PPA.com!)

What makes these even better - the discount with UPS will not only offer great rates, but also host a user-friendly interface, saving you money and time. 

Remember to visit the Year-Round Discounts page to see other companies PPA has partnered with to help lower your costs of doing business! 

Not a PPA member? Join today to take advantage of this discount, along with the rest of the PPA member benefits


You know the social media lingo, where to find your prospects or clients, how to set a strategy and how to plan your posts. This week we're diving into the world of best practices!

Here are top 25 best practices for social media, ranging from the super technical (like where to place a link in a tweet) to general guide lines. 

Twitter
  1. Put links 25% way through the tweet. You'll gain more retweets that way!
  2. Share links to gain more retweets. Share your blog, share your Facebook page, Instagram feed or YouTube videos! Share interesting articles of what's happening in the photography world or new things in your area. Remember, you can't talk about yourself all the time or folks will stop paying attention.
  3. Tweet around 4 PM. Really. It's the magical hour that gets the most retweets! Use HootSuite (free!) to schedule your posts around that time and gain the most traction.
  4. Ask for the retweet! Including the phrase "Please Retweet" or "Please RT" in your tweets will dramatically increase how many of your followers will spread the news (but don't go overboard and use it on every single tweet. Nobody likes that guy.)
  5. Retweet regularly from folks you follow. Paying it forward that way improves your Twitter karma. It may sound like a joke, but it works. Just ensure you keep it relevant! 
  6. Participate in #FF. Find your top followers and throw them a solid by including them in the #FF every week or so. If you're included in a #FF, retweet it and say thank you (mind your manners!)
  7. If you get picked up in an aggregate paper, say thanks and retweet their link. They'll continue to showcase your stuff and you'll continue to expand your reach. 
  8. Use hashtags that are applicable to your business! #photography, #your city, #behindthescenes, etc.
  9. Use the bio section to your advantage. Use keywords (in a logical manner) to turn up higher in the search function! Its Twitter's special way to use SEO!

Facebook
  1. Use questions that start with "should", "would" or "which" for more comments and answers.  Ask questions for more comments and to get input from your clients and respond to them so they know you're listening. 
  2. Enable the "reply" feature to keep the stream of comments listed in an orderly fashion!
  3. Use Calls-to-Action on Facebook. Posts with the word "Like" in them are twice as likely to receive a like. We all love likes, but similar to asking for the retweet, do this sparingly.
  4. Take advantage of your skill set and often use a photo! Stats show that posts with a photo are nearly twice as likely to get more likes, and any page looks incomplete without a cover photo.
  5. Use Facebook as a medium for giveaways or promotions. Discounted sessions or free prints. Don't break your bank, but offer your fans something that makes them feel special. 
  6. Use the milestones to tell the story of your brand! Mark studio opening, major events

Google+
  1. Share the love and +1 other people's work. Ask questions and be a part of the conversation. There are hundreds of photography communities, get involved, even for just a few minutes a day.
  2. Link your Goolge+ page with your website and other social networks. Use the +1 or share button so your content can be easily spread throughout the interwebs!
  3. Share your work often and give details that entice a conversation: talk about your equipment, your lighting, your creative process to bring other photographers in on the conversation. 
  4. Be the author! Google+ will help you increase your SEO with AuthorRank! Not only will it help you get noticed on Google+, but that blog of yours will also get some major attention. (You can find out more here.) 

Instagram
  1. Utilize hashtags on Instagram in the same way you would on Twitter. They will get more engagement since people can actually find them. 
  2. Make behind the scenes videos of all your office fun, current projects and assignments! You can pack a lot of punch into 15 seconds!

LinkedIn
  1. Gain credibility with recommendations. Ask some of your best clients (not every client) to write a quick recommendation on LinkedIn and you'll be three times more likely to get inquiries through the LinkedIn searches! 
  2. Look for your next gig through the LinkedIn jobs search! This probably won't be your top lead generating tool, but it will add to your bottom line. 

General
  1. Stay positive. If you beg for business, complain about how it's a tough year or write anything that could be perceived as negative you will lose business. Your content helps define your value, and if you devalue your brand with less-than-positive posts, your clients will go elsewhere. 
  2. Respond to negative comments and don't delete them. If you delete them, you will look a little shady, no matter how crazy the comment is. Kill them with kindness, offer to talk to them offline and ask them to private message you their number (or if you already have their number, call them immediately). 

A bunch of new things to keep in mind as you navigate your social media plan, but soon they will seem like second nature (we promise!) courtesy of HubSpot, Photoshelter, Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, SocialMedia Today, Webmarketing Group, Socially Stacked and Media Bistro. Next week we will talk about the things to avoid on social media - these are the things that will make your customers run for the hills (or at least to your competitor).

- Sarah

This is post 5 of 7 in the Be More...Social series. Read the other posts in the series using the links below:


It's week three of our "Be More...Social" series! In week one, we covered why on earth you need to be on social media (and what's the proper lingo) and last week we discussed the top six platforms to consider utilizing in your social media strategy. Social media strategy you ask? Welcome to week three!

Social media strategy is the thorough process that goes into your posts, tweets, and shares. Think of social media as something that needs to continually be optimized--how can you improve your efforts when you have no way to track or measure them? That's where strategy comes in!

There are some pretty simple steps to create your strategy, and numerous websites to help you track your successes and opportunities for improvement (let's avoid the word "failure").

1. Determine Your Goals

What do you hope to get out of social media? What goals do you want to accomplish? 
If you're not sure where to start--here are some common goals and objectives small businesses usually turn to social media for:
  • Branding: General company/brand recognition is huge, especially for photographers. You don't want to be "that guy over on Main Street...you know...what's his name?"--You want to be you! You want (and need) to build a brand identity to get word-of-mouth recognition going. 
  • Attract new clients: Utilizing social media to drive traffic to your pages or website/blog will help attract new clients and customers. Also, by listening closely (we covered that week one) - you can see who is in the market for your work and seek them out. By handling social media in a professional manner, it will allow your personality and your work to shine. 
  • Build a following: By creating dynamic content, you'll be giving your customers a reason to talk (positively) about your brand! They will share your content and voila! Their friends become your fans and followers and you become a likeable, recommendable, in-demand photographer. 
Pro-tip: Make your goals as measurable and reasonable as possible. It would be ill-advised to say your goal should be to double your Twitter followers in a week (unless you only have a handful)--but increase by 5% over a month's time might not be a bad place to start! Or you can equate your goals with more inbound inquiries--more phone calls, emails or requests from your website can be tied back to building your brand and attracting new followers! Give them a reason to follow you. Peak their interest with behind the scenes shots or stories, promotions or special offers, color or dressing tips, etc. 

As time goes on, track your progress with spreadsheets or fun (free) infographics from places like www.visual.ly! They allow you to see how your Facebook content has reached the masses, or how you're stacking up to your competition on Twitter. 

2. Know Your Clients (Both Present & Prospective)

Last week we discussed who is on what platform - and hopefully that directed what sites you're planning on leveraging. Now, drill deeper to see who your audience might be!
  • Understand your target market's point of view and activities: Think of your target demographics--age, gender, income, location, as well as interests and priorities. When you post on Facebook, you can segment by many of these demographics and really hone in on who your post reaches. 
  • Consider influencers, buyers and end users: This is key--especially with senior portraits! You have the senior (end user), buyers (parents) and influencers (senior's friends/social circles) to contend with! 
  • Consider your audience's social media behavior: Do they lurk? Do they share? Do they create? Each type of social media user can be engaged in a different way. Know your market to see how you can best leverage your reach.

3. Choose Your "Hot Buttons"

These are your studio's main content topics. Keep it to three - five different themes depending on your studio's product offering. They will differ from studio to studio, but remember to keep them relevant to the work you do so they are optimized for your market. 
  • Create an editorial calendar: We'll go into this more next week, but know you should have a place to create content in bulk so it's less work on the fly. 
  • Brainstorm ideas: Using these themes, bring in your most creative thinkers and collaborate how you can best utilize these themes in fun, interactive ways!
  • Offer a variety of content formats: Text posts are not nearly as popular as images. You're a photographer -use your work! Also consider utilizing your Instagram images on Facebook/Twitter or creating a YouTube video to share "behind-the-scenes" action. 
By sticking to your themes, it will help your pages develop a rich content source that will help you more dramatically achieve your target goals.

4. Set Your Limits

If you're not careful, social media can be a black hole of time. Ever start looking through your newsfeed to see what you're clients are up to and end up 15 pages deep on Buzzfeed? Don't worry, you're not alone. Set time limits and stick to them! Maybe set aside 30 minutes, twice a day to start. Or utilize services such as Meltwater an RSS feed--they scan the web for your company's name (or other key words) and bring the results to you!  It eliminates the time-suck that can happen when you hop over to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but it also costs a pretty penny. 

5. Plan Your (Human) Resources

Next (big) question: who will handle your social media? If you're in business by yourself, with no additional help, this is a really easy answer! If you have a bit bigger of an operation, it's important to set clear expectations of who has access to the admin rights, how those rights are to be used and what happens if they blow it (they won't blow it, but just in case). It's usually not the best idea to have the intern running your image, so pick someone who knows you, knows your business and can handle some nonsense (FYI: people can be jerks on the internet). 

It's usually helpful to set some social media guidelines and rules for etiquette. We have our set of rules for PPA and if folks violate them there is a clear expectation of what happens. Same goes for your page! If someone is making inappropriate comments, don't be afraid to boot them off. Creating a process on how you handle these situations is key!

Note: If someone has something negative to say about your business that has some truth behind it, leave it and respond to it. Kill them with kindness, but try not to delete those comments. That will take away the transparency of your business and you will come across as much less authentic. 

6. Measure. Improve. Repeat.

We talked about creating measurable goals in step one. Make sure as you're implementing your strategy, you have all of the tools to make these measurements. Set aside time the first of the month to see how your number of fans/followers have grown, or make sure you ask how people heard of your company when you get a new client calling. 

There are also great free analytics on Facebook (click your "Insights" box in your admin panel) to see what posts reached the most individuals, gained the most likes/shares and worked the best. Explore what made those posts great and keep it up! You can also see what needs some help and tweak it for the future. 

Last, but not least, you can set up a special landing page on your website to see how many clicks convert from all of your social platforms. Talk to your web developer to set this up for an easy way to see what platforms are working and what needs some love!

So there are the six easy steps to create your strategy from the Social Media Examiner! They may be simple, but they can take some time to implement. Dedicate an hour a day to working through this list and see where the week takes you. Next week we'll cover the planning of your posts (think content types, timing, etc.)! 

How have you implemented what's been covered thus far? What questions do you have? What troubles (if any) have you run into? Leave them in the comments!

- Sarah

This is post 3 of 7 in the Be More...Social series. Read the other posts in the series using the links below:









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