Unfortunately, in the process of chasing that magical number one on social media, artists are losing the ability to do their craft and no longer focusing on the only thing that will actually shape the next generation of artists. We are slowing down processes that we should be speeding up. This is a call to action for every visual artist – photographer, writer, producer, designer, etc. Yes, you. Social media has convinced us that we need to integrate ourselves into our work and through doing so we have forgotten why we do what we do in the first place. We are here to create meaning and share it with everyone who will listen.
The idea of why you started taking photos has been lost in a sea of likes, comments, tags, and engagement. Social media is getting the best of you. It’s time to stop using social media at least for a little while. You’ve got to escape the hype and the illusion of social media. Be a real artist and follow these 4 suggestions to limit your social media use and focus more on creating the images, rather than just showing them off.
Social Media Is Not The Be All And End All Of Marketing
We all know that social media is a huge part of our lives—but it’s not the only way to reach your audience.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “If I didn’t have social media, I wouldn’t be able to reach my clients.”
This is simply not true.
People will say things like, “Times are evolving—you just haven’t caught up yet,” or any other random excuse for why they should stick with what they know instead of looking into other tools. But here’s the thing: there are plenty of great ways to reach your audience without relying on social media.
Here are some ideas:
- Create a personal website with great SEO.
- Attend conventions and public networking events.
- Use outreach initiatives like email outreach or paid ads on sites like Facebook and Google Adwords.
- Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to get new clients!
Social media is great for getting your name out there and connecting with other photographers, but it’s not the only tool in the toolbox.
The Algorithm Is A Fictional Boogie Man
The algorithm is not the problem.
They’re the ones who have convinced you that you should spend every waking hour on social media, posting and interacting with a million posts in hopes that you may get enough reactions to cash in on the super secret customer package social media hides from you.
Truth is, many successful artists can go days and weeks without uploading content to the web without “being hidden” or “shadowbanned.” They do it by focusing on their quality of work, taking some time away from social media, and concentrating more on having the right people in their network (instead of just random people) in the hopes that they will give them reactions. And you can be just like them!
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: there’s a lot of drama on social media that just simply does not need to exist.
I have seen so many photographers get tagged in posts from their photography accounts on Facebook, with people tagging them to say something like “did you know this person is a mutual friend? I just thought I would warn you they (insert none offense)”
This is a huge problem, and it happens all the time. It’s one thing when someone asks you why you took photos of people with different political/religious beliefs than them. It’s another thing when someone asks why you worked with so-and-so 7 years ago at a birthday party that they gave dirty looks. And it’s yet another thing when someone asks how dare you let someone comment on your posts that they can’t stand the way they spell their name.
Yes, these kinds of things happen all the time—and if you haven’t seen it before, hopefully you never will. But when you are a photographer on social media, people will constantly want you to be on an apology tour for things out of your control!
No One Actually Needs 24 Hour Access To You
Social media is a powerful tool. But it’s not a business model, and it’s not a replacement for all other forms of marketing, no matter how much you want it to be.
Whether you’re a photographer or an accountant, the most important thing to remember is that your clients don’t pay you for access to your Instagram account. They pay you because they need your services—and because they trust that you’ll deliver those services well.
So if you are going to base your entire business model around social media platforms, create a schedule and stick to it—and in that schedule have a time where you log out and turn off notifications (though most phones actually have a scheduled sleep mode you can set up to turn on automatically). And go spend time with your family! No client needs access to you 24/7. They don’t—inquiries can wait until the morning, emergencies can wait until the morning. You are a photographer not a doctor (unless they specifically hired YOU as their doctor).
Social Media Isn’t The Only Way To Go
Social media is a great tool for photographers, but it’s not the only one.
If you want to be a social media photographer, that’s fine. But if you’re a photographer and feel like you’re being forced to use social media in order to become successful—and wish it was different—well, it can be. There are plenty of other ways to drum up business without feeling trapped by algorithms and hordes of people waiting to jump on any reason to watch a business go up in flames just because they find it fun to watch knowing damn well the business did nothing wrong.
So take it from me, there is a life to be lived and beautiful art to be created outside the four walls of Facebook and ‘the gram’. You should try it sometime.
About the Author
Bryan Wark is a USMC Veteran and Award winning Portrait photographer from Binghamton NY. You’ll find more of his work on his website and on Instagram. This article was also published here and shared with permission.