So you’re scrolling through Instagram one morning over coffee, when you notice – IT’S HAPPENED! A massive photography account has featured one of your photos on their page. I know this is the best feeling ever and you feel like you’ve “made it”, but I want to spend some time delving into the truth about “getting featured”.
Yes, it feels amazing, and you should be damn proud – but getting featured shouldn’t be the focus of your business. I don’t mean this negatively at all, but it’s best to direct your energy towards helping your clients, not helping social media.
Why? At the end of the day, it’s your clients who are paying you, not social media accounts!
Here’s what you need to know about Instagram and how to get your photography noticed by clients who will book you.
It’s common to wonder how to market yourself as a photographer on Instagram. Many new photographers tend to think being featured is the only way.
If the term “getting featured” is new to you, this is when a large social media account reposts your photo or video, with credit. This can result in more interest in your work and probably a short-term increase in likes, comments, and new followers.
Seems cool, right? That’s because it is! The above image from the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah got featured more times than I could count. I was over the moon. But now, looking back, I can tell you that it is NOT EVERYTHING.
Photographers feel so much pressure to build a successful social media following – I know this, as I’ve felt it so much myself. But it can cause you to lose confidence in your business if your account doesn’t seem to be growing.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the trap of spending all your time on Insta with the hope of getting noticed. However, if you’re wondering how to boost your photography business with socials, I think it’s better to post consistently, engage with other photography accounts, and basically run your own race without feeling like you need to be on socials constantly.
I really wish I could go back in time and tell this to my past self, as experience has taught me that you don’t need to have a huge Instagram following to run a successful photography business.
Here’s why being featured on socials shouldn’t be your focus.
Seeing your work featured can make your dopamine levels go crazy. People are seeing, liking, and sharing your work and you simply can’t get enough of it!
However, the Instagram algorithm moves fast, and just as soon as your image is featured, it’ll move on to some other photographer. Within an hour or two, the traffic generated from your feature is going to slow down.
Moral of the story? Knowing how to get featured as a photographer on Insta is about focusing on your long-term rather than short-term social media gains.
Time for the hard truth about getting featured: it boosts your ego, but it doesn’t bring you new clients.
Most people who follow photography accounts are other photographers or people who just like to scroll through beautiful pictures – they usually aren’t clients actively shopping for a wedding photographer.
Clients don’t care if you’ve been featured online. They care about who you are, your photography skills, and whether or not you can take pictures of their amazing wedding!
I guarantee that paying clients care more about your attitude and your work than they do about how many times you’ve been featured.
Another truth bomb: not everything on Instagram is real. If you’re feeling down about seeing another photographer always being featured on other accounts, guess what – they might have paid for that space!
Pay to play – where you pay to be featured on bigger accounts – is super common and not talked about enough. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s something you need to do.
The same can apply to traditional media – how do photographers get featured in magazines? This can happen based on luck, who you know, and even (yep) paying to have your work featured. Not always, but it happens often, so don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t been featured much in the press or online.
I know what it’s like to feel the special media pressure, but a big Instagram account doesn’t define your success! Getting featured is not all that and a bag of chips. It’s a temporary feeling that fades, leaving you to wonder why you put all that time and energy into that one moment when it could’ve been used to serve your clients better.
It’s draining to put so much of your energy into social media when it’s really just a tiny fraction of what we do as photographers. So, I really encourage you to shift your mindset away from “Instagram is everything!” to “Social media is just a part of my multi-faceted marketing strategy”.
How do I market myself as a freelance photographer? Take amazing photos, build an SEO-optimized website, network, and provide the best possible experience for your clients. THIS will bring you income, not Instagram alone! Oh, and if you’re taking great photos and sharing them on your own account, you’re likely to end up with a feature or two anyway.
It sounds cheesy, but tell yourself:
You’re an amazing photographer, so don’t let social media popularity define your success.
If you have any questions about using social media to build your business as a photographer, I’m glad to help – I offer mentorships to wedding and elopement photographers to help you work smarter, not harder.
P.S. You are doing great. Just a kind reminder.