It’s no secret that photos are probably the most powerful medium known to humans. In just the past few years, photography as a hobby has exploded, putting technology in hands of everyone. But does this mean that photographers will have to work a lot harder to get noticed? Not necessarily.
With a little initial effort, you can automate and maximize your online presence, allowing you to spend more time on your favorite hobby (or profession) — shooting. Based on my experience, here are five essential ways to jumpstart your online presence:
1. Sign up for a photo-sharing site.
If you haven’t done it already, now is the time. Sign up for accounts on these sites:
- 500px (http://500px.com) (obvious disclosure: I’m co-founder and COO of 500px)
- Flickr (http://flickr.com/)
- SmugMug (http://www.smugmug.com/)
- Google+ (https://plus.google.com/)
- Instagram (http://instagram.com/)
- Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/)
You don’t have to sign up for all of them at once, but having a presence on several photo-sharing websites is important to put the word — or rather, the photos — out for the world to see. Choose the sites you feel most comfortable with, and stick with them. Engage your audience, answer questions and comments, upload your newest works, and follow people whose work you admire. Since your personality is now your brand, be open, communicate frequently and share your experiences with others.
2. Automate publishing with ifttt.com.
With sites like ifttt (http://ifttt.com/) you can automate repetitive publishing. Simply sign up for an account, and set up some of the rules. For instance, when posting to Instagram, also publish to Flickr. Or, when you post a blog post on Tumblr, republish the photos to Flickr.
There are hundreds of combinations, and in just a few minutes you can automate your work so you don’t have to spend time publishing it manually. It might take 20-30 minutes to optimize the initial setup, but it will allow you to simply update one of the networks when you publish — and the rest will follow automatically. If you usually update several outlets, this could save you hours per week.
3. Engage the audience.
Even if you are just starting out in photography, you probably have learned something recently. The best way to engage your audience is to share your knowledge. Write a blog post (and make sure it automatically goes to Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook) about what you’ve learned — rules of thirds, golden ratio, or some Lightroom tricks. The easiest way to do that is to start a blog on Wordpress (http://wordpress.org/), Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com) or Medium (https://medium.com/) (invitation required).
Even if it’s a tiny bit of information and takes you five minutes to write, chances are, your readers will still appreciate it. Sharing knowledge is the biggest single asset that you can bring to your audience. Some very basic things may — and do — go viral. Share your Lightroom presets, any custom Photoshop brushes you may have discovered or created, or any other technique you are using at the moment.
4. Go offline.
As strange as it sounds, to be more present online, you should also be present “offline.” For example, visit Meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com/) or Google+ Events (https://plus.google.com/events) and check for photography meetups around you. Getting to know people in your city that are passionate about same thing will greatly enhance your satisfaction from being online, as you will get to know the people behind the avatars and nicknames.
Such meetups are also a great place to visit if you are planning any trips — a group can not only lower the cost of the trip, but also provide more enjoyment. I once organized a trip to the Canadian Raptor Conservancy to take pictures of owls and eagles, where nine photographers were able to pay a very reasonable fee for a private event. I wouldn’t be able to afford to go there on my own.
5. Ask questions, and always try something new.
If you are on a path to becoming a better photographer, you can learn a lot by asking questions. My favorite places for new knowledge are creativeLive (http://www.creativelive.com/), Quora (http://www.quora.com/), Flickr Groups (http://www.flickr.com/groups/) and the 500px Blog (http://500px.com/blog). Sometimes it’s difficult to know what questions to ask, so also consider taking structured courses.
You can read and watch tutorials, engage in sessions, and go try something in the wild. Experimenting with what you have learned will result in new knowledge — which is a great story to share with your audience.
Bonus: And if you want to improve the photography that you’re sharing online, try a photography course from NYIP today!