So you’re a photographer/hobbyist. You’ve taken your pictures, processed them and are ready to show the world. Well where do you start? There’s numerous of websites online which allow you to display your work, some more popular than others. Some even allow you to sell prints and you don’t even have to do anything apart from take the picture and the site will do the rest. When you sell your first print it’s the moment where you realise that your work is actually good enough to be on someones wall. They want your work, on their wall.. it’s definitely a self-confidence boosting momemt… but more on that subject later. The internet is the most powerful source online so use it to your advantage. So let’s start with 10 simple steps.
1. Search Google for popular Art Sites
Online art sites are fantastic and probably the biggest way to start getting your work exposed. With photography becoming more and more popular these days everyone is signing up for a piece of fame.
I recommend the following:
Sign up to as many as possible. The more sites you sign up to the more chance of people seeing your work. Upload work every day and make sure it’s your best. In my experience people want to see ‘pretty’, they want to see colourful, high quality, cute, and something that has soul, but don’t let peoples opinions stop you from doing what you enjoy. Don’t flood people with your pictures by uploading too many but at the same time don’t upload too few. I think 1 or 2 a day is a good amount. The only down side with being active on so many sites is keeping up with them and on a daily occurrence this can get tedious and time consuming, but remember this is your path to exposure so keep it up.
2. Go to Photography Forums
If art sites aren’t your thing then this is second best. A forum is community based, therefore you will find lots of users willing to look at your work. Sign up to as many as you can, introduce yourself, post your work. Edit your profile and insert links to all your art sites, social networking sites, your website & your contact email, should anyone want to contact you.
Sell yourself and put yourself out there. Post all your best work in a thread (according to the community’s guidelines) and even post a link to your twitters or facebook at the end so people can follow or ‘like’ you.
Don’t just post your work and run, browse through the threads and comment on as many as you can so people can see your posts and hopefully check out your profile (where the links to all your art sites are). Be helpful, be willing to give advice and critique (although nothing too harsh unless they ask for it).
Some good photography forums are as follows:
A quick Google Search will find you many, many more.
3. Social Networking
These days social networking is an incredibly powerful way to keep in touch, promote your business & to find more friends or customers. Use this to your advantage! With the majority of these sites there’s ways to find anyone with the same interests or personality as you, even to promote other people with a simple click.
Create a Twitter, a Facebook fan page and a Google+.
In my opinion these are the top 3 in terms of popularity. Each having at least a million/billion users if not more.
Keep your viewers/fans interested
Don’t talk too much about day to day events. People follow you because they like your work, so give them a regular supply of it. Post on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ when you’ve uploaded and provide the link to your newest submission so people can click it, be directed to your new piece and favourite it. A lot of sites such as Deviantart use a system to where the most favourited work gets to the front page, giving you the ultimate exposure because literally everyone on the site will see it. And I mean millions of people. You’ll gain new favourites, page views and watchers within the minute.
Ask your fans/viewers questions related to photography on your twitters etc and see what they say. Questions such as “What camera do you have?”, “What’s your favourite lens?”, “What would you do if you had your equipment stolen?”.. Get them involved, people like being involved.
One last thing, in your picture description always tell a sweet but to-the-point story of how you went about getting this shot. This again, helps the viewer to feel more connected to you and your work.
4. Connect your Art Sites with your Social Networking Sites
Connect, connect, connect! Connect everything so you have a little circle where people can be redirected from your twitter to your deviantart, your facebook to your website, your google+ to your favourite photography forum, your newest upload to your twitter, your twitter to your newest upload, etc etc.
On a lot of sites these days they give you the option to ‘publish’ the blog post, website page or picture to your social networking site such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+. So when you upload a new piece of work to your gallery press the Twitter, facebook, google+, etc button on the same page so the direct link automatically gets uploaded to your desired social network. In doing that, the people following you on these networks will see the link and click it, being directed to your newest submission, from there they can see the rest of your gallery and favourite the work, give you a higher chance of getting to the front page.
If you’re under a time constraint this is very useful because this way it isn’t necessary for you to manually go to Twitter and post the link, Flickr etc does it for you!
It’s also wise to list all of your connections (social networking sites, other art sites) underneath your newest submission.
5. Make a Photoblog
Photoblogs such as Tumblr, Blogspot, WordPress, Live Journal etc etc are very important because these sites make it easy to basically “re-post” your picture to their profile, also allowing other people to re-post it to theirs if they wish to do so, and in doing this they’re promoting your work for the world to see.
Focusing on Tumblr, it’s one of the biggest blogging site and another great way to gain exposure.
For example here’s my Tumblr: http://lady-tori.tumblr.com/
I don’t really use it for blogging, I just use it as another channel to get my work seen. So I’ve simply connected my Flickr to my Tumblr account and ‘share’ (post) my work (in the way I spoke about above in the screenshot) so that it posts to my Tumblr account. In doing so, the picture directs right back to my Flickr account when it’s clicked. So if someone on Tumblr likes my photo they can click it and land on my Flickr profile to continue browsing my gallery.
I’ve found that people like as much information as possible, so make a blog post based on a recent shoot. Post pictures, describe your shoot, the equipment used, lighting, etc etc. Be helpful and as descriptive as possible.
Check out Style Me Pretty‘s photoblog for an example of this.
6. Be Different
Not sure about you, but I’m fed up with seeing the same photos over and over again. People have a huge tendency to copy ideas and to the viewers it gets boring seeing the same things repeatedly. Everyone does it, even I did it when I first started out a few years ago, it’s just human nature… but eventually it will put people off your work. For example I’ve seen so many images of new borns in cute wooly hats and as cute as it is, it’s boring! I’ve seen it too much. Something different please!!! So be that person that does something different… you’ll realise how refreshing it is and you’ll find more people will flock to your work.
7. Get Around
No, not in that way. But this is the most important factor to getting your work known. Sign up EVERYWHERE. The more you sign up to different sites the more fans and followers you’ll get, and that is the key to moving up. Look around for advantages to promote your work. If you visit a forum, add links in your signature to your “circle” of sites that I mentioned earlier. Take every opportunity you can get.
If someone messages me and asks to use my work on their site, I pm them back and ask for a link to check the site out. If I like it and it seems legit I’ll give them permission providing they credit me. And by doing that I mean credit my name and website so people know who the work is coming from. I advise you (unless you feel strongly about people using your work) to let people do this because it will help give you the exposure you need.
8. Make a Website
This one is very important. Your website is your home, it’s where you post everything about you and your work. It’s the place everyone will come to check for any updates, and most importantly it’s a chance for people to get to know you more. The way your website is set out or the CSS skin you use gives someone an insight as to your personality… and if you want to make it in the photography industry, you need to have a good personality.
Be neutral with your site. Don’t make it too dark or small so it hurts peoples eyes, you’ll just lose a bunch of traffic and your site won’t make it. Have neutral colours & font sizes. Consider people that might not be able to read small writing, etc. Remember the purpose of a website is for people to look and browse through it so it needs to be somewhat pleasing to look at. Set your website or buy a skin that allows people to easily navigate through. I hate when I land on a site and I’m thinking “well where do I click to see his gallery?!?!” because the link is hidden away somewhere… no good. Make sure everything is visible and easy because if people are like me they don’t want the hassle of going around in circles, they want it to be direct.
For the love of God do not put music on your site! The one thing I cannot stand is when I have my iTunes open and my headphones on, clicking on a site and I’m suddenly plagued with horrible music. The first thing I do is close the window because no way am I going through the ‘inconvenience’ of frantically searching for the sacred “STOP” button with 2 songs blasting through my ears. So that’s already one viewer they’ve lost… doubtlessly the last. Just spare us poor souls from having to listen to your ‘taste’ in music.
9. Insert your URL as a Watermark
I’ve had so many of my pictures stolen these days and uploaded to websites without my permission and WITHOUT credit, so no one knows its creator. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve given up contacting the owners of the site to get it taken down because it’s so time consuming. Instead, I spoke to a friend and he suggested I add the url of my site in my watermark. What a genius! If people don’t choose to credit me but steal nevertheless at least I’ve engrained my website into the picture so people know where to look if they want to see more.
I suggest you do the same. There’s nothing worse when you see a beautiful picture but there’s no information as to the author because art thieves are too selfish to bother considering showing a little respect.
It’s a win win situation! Just don’t have the URL or watermark so visible that it takes the vibe away from the picture. Look at how mine is; it’s not too small but not too overwhelming either.
10. Join Groups!
Especially Flickr Groups. Have you seen the community? It’s absolutely huge! When you’re on an art site, take the time to research it. Look for groups, or forums or any other way to get your work noticed. Groups for me is a big one so I suggest you add your work to as many as possible.
To end on a few more useful tips..
– Be a good Photographer. If your work is good, people will want to look at it and see more. If it’s boring & plain no one will be interested.
– Enter competitions (google them and you’ll find many)
– Process your photos! Not over the top, but a few contrast and saturation boosts will work wonders and make it more pleasing to look at.
– Comment on everyones work on Art Sites. This will make you visible to other viewers & commenters.
– Be professional.
– Always be active on Social Network sites and Art Sites.
– Insert sharing options at the end of your posts so people can share your post on Twitter, Facebook etc
That’s about it for now.
Until next time..
Have fun exposing you and your work!
– Lady Tori