Turn your passion into a business
This is a guest post from one of my SAIT Basic Photography students
Meet Nikki McArthur of EpicDanger Photography. Nikki is an up and coming Calgary Area Photographer specializing in Family, Maternity and Newborn Photgraphy. In 2008 with the birth of her first child Danger, Nikki picked up her camera for what seemed like the first time in attempts to capture every moment milestone and emotion that came with her growing daughter. Today that journey continues as she documents her own two Children Danger and her son Epic as well as the love and bonds that flow between parents and their children all over Calgary. You can visit Nikki on her website at: www.epicdanger.com or check out her blog, twitter, facebook or tumblr page.
Nikki is a great fit here because many of you are starting to make money with your photography, or you have dreams of doing so in the near future. Leave some comment love for us at the bottom of this post, and tell your friends to read it too!
Just over a year ago I decided I was going to take the risk and turn my hobby and passion into something more, I was going pro.
If you’re anything like me you might think “Yep, I’m going to do it! I’m going to be a photographer!” and assume that means that you will spend the majority of your days taking images, editing images and looking at images. Then reality comes and slaps you in the face with the business side of things, the websites, the blogs, the Search Engine Optimizing, social media, setting up printing, albums, business cards, branding, and so much more.
Gone are the days of printed portfolio’s, face-to-face client meetings and phone calls.
These have been replaced by websites with online portfolios, Skype and email. The Internet is your best friend. It allows you access to a bigger audience than you could ever imagine. The Internet really makes the term “The Sky’s The Limit” ring true, however it can also be your arch nemesis. Your website, your blog, your Tumblr page or the lack there of can really make or break your business.
In seconds a potential client can find you and hundreds of other photographers online and peruse through your little piece of the web hoping to find an image that speaks to them. Although you and I might like to think it’s all about the photos, the truth of the matter is that it comes down to a lot more than that. Your potential clients are looking to connect somehow, whether it be a witty line in your bio section, an image that takes their breath away or a song that plays while browsing through your gallery, people are looking to connect, to find something about you that they click with. You may be the best photographer in Canada but if your website doesn’t match up with your mad photo skills or even worse if your website doesn’t list on a search engine for your relevant keywords, you are putting yourself at an extreme disadvantage.
So how do you give yourself a professional web presence? You’ve got two main options: A flash website, or a blog.
The Flash Website
Whether custom designed by a pricey professional or customizing your own template purchased from places such as Into The Dark Room, Bigfolio or Bludomain, the flash style website gives you a nicely polished, professional looking site.
Whether you are like me and are using your blog to compliment your Flash website letting your clients get a better feel for who you are as well as giving you a place to show off your current work, or you are like ImageMaven and are using it as your main web presence, the blog options are ENDLESS!
For those not so tech savvy folks you can get yourself started with a free Blogger or WordPress.com account and use a generic template. However, Marlene recommends using a WordPress.org hosted solution, which has more functionality and customization features. For a more polished individual look you can head on over to places like Pro Photo Blogs and others just like it and purchase yourself a WordPress template that can be customized with your photo galleries. There are lots of possibilities when you combine WordPress with a good template. Make sure you check out the features of each before you make your choice. Some templates are better than others. Look for ones that have built in SEO features.
Now that you’ve got your website or blogsite out of the way you are ready to sign up for Twitter which Marlene has written about here, as well as Tumblr, and of course the ever popular facebook page.
How do you get people to notice all of these great pages you’ve created on the web? Well here are some options. You can hire a guy like ClearSEO for a one time or a monthly fee to spend time optimizing your site or blog for search engines. Enter the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You can rely on blog plugins and built in SEO tools on your website or you can do some research and actively build your website around SEO. For best results I suggest a combination of these options mixed with great photos and general connections with people.
In the end it is going to take time and energy to build your web presence, but if you want to build your business and give yourself a shot at going pro, it’s time and energy that you are going to have to put into your business!
Are you ready to take things to the next level?
Check out the Going Pro kit!
Click here to view more details