A Photographer’s Guide to Maximizing Social Media

Most of my posts will focus on my images, but this post will be a little different. I recently had the opportunity to share some of my social media tips with my local photo club, and now I thought that I would share them with you. I am by no means the world’s foremost expert on this, but I have had some real-world experiences that I’ve learned from, and I hope that you will pick up some useful tips even if you’re a seasoned user of social networks.

My Primary Social Networks

I know you might be thinking it’s weird that the first thing I start with is something that isn’t really a social network. While SmugMug isn’t a true social network, it is an important part of my social media strategy as it serves as the home base for all my images. Whenever I post, I try to point back to my home base to drive traffic (and hopefully sales) there. The order of networks you see above is significant because it roughly represents the order by which I distribute my images. Your networks may differ, and this is not a statement on the best networks to use, only remember to come up with a strategy for targeting as many networks as you can.

Before I go any further, I’d like to just point out that it’s perfectly okay to take images for no reason other than your own personal enjoyment. You don’t have to be active on social media, and it’s entirely possible that a truly exceptional image will go viral on social media without any effort at all. However, if you want to increase the chances of monetizing your images, social media can be an important stepping stone to making that happen. On that note, as you start to see likes and shares come in on your images, remember that likes don’t necessarily equal money, but try to keep the big picture in mind. The likes you get now, could lead to networking and photo shoot opportunities, which in turn lead to experience, and finally can ultimately lead to paid gigs or print sales.

Useful Tips for Any Social Network

Use Watermarks

Theft of images is rampant on social media. Instagram has been the worst offender for me, possibly because a significant portion of the user base is made up of individuals that have grown up in the “Napster” era where anything posted online is deemed to be free to use. I can’t tell you how many times the particular image below has been reposted without a photo credit to me. Each time I have noticed, it’s been by teenage girls that adore both the subject of the image and the “Frozen” theme she is skating to. A watermark usually won’t deter the determined thieves, but I use them to increase the chance that the causal reposter won’t bother to remove it. Reposters often fail to tag or mention the photographer, and don’t seem to know why they should. Because this is such a problem on Instagram, I generally place a bright, centered watermark at the bottom of the image. On other sites, I prefer it to be much more subtle as you see below.

2014 Sochi Olympic Team Bronze Medalist, Gracie Gold, skates to Let it Go from Frozen at Stars on Ice in St. Paul, MN USA on May 4, 2014.

Trickle Images Out

For maximum engagement, it is very important to limit the number of images you post per day. If you post an entire album at once, I guarantee that only the most dedicated of fans will view all of the images, and most will only view a couple, leaving the rest to rot in digital oblivion. Facebook is bad about this as too many images posted in too close proximity, will result in them being automatically grouped into a gallery in the news feed of viewers. My personal recommendation is one image per day, per network.

Post Often

While you may be only posting one image per day, it is good to post as many days in a row as you can, to help build momentum among your followers. People seem to like frequent posts day after day, but not too many in one day.

Post a Variety

While many people like frequent posts, they also like a variety. If you have many images to post from multiple shoots, I recommend mixing them up a bit instead of posting too many from the same shoot in a row. However, if you’ve chosen a niche subject like I have (aviation), you may risk alienating fans if you stray too much from what you usually post. I once had a follower ask me if I was going to get back to airliners anytime soon. In the end, don’t worry too much about this. Shoot and post what you love.

Only Post Your Best Work

This can be tough as many of us get attached to our images, but I implore you, don’t post every image from a given gallery to social media. To do that, you will have to post too many images in a single day, or post for too many days in a row on the same subject, both leading to less views of your images. Post your best work to your “home base”, then trickle out the very best on social media.

Timing

The timing of when you post your image is very important. I don’t have a perfect suggestion as it varies by fan base and location in the world, but experiment with different times for posting images. Also, be cognizant of world time zones. Remember, when you are posting to social media, you are broadcasting to the entire world. It might seem odd to post at 2pm in the U.S. on a business day, but consider that it could be the prime time when people in the UK are relaxing at home. Even if you don’t have the perfect timing, posting at different times will allow you to engage new followers. Also consider coordinating images with current events that align with your image’s subject. Piggybacking on a current news event can drive significant traffic to your images.

Research Tags

Tags are very important! If you don’t already have a large fan base (e.g. a major celebrity), tags are essential to being discovered. They are key to users searching for images on social sites, and key to web crawlers picking up images that later show up in web searches. I’ve had images languish for weeks with hardly any attention, until I tagged the images. I say research tags, as you likely won’t know what tags to use at first. Start by tagging images with whatever descriptive words come to mind. Then, look at similar images and see what tags other people are using. This is imperative on Instagram, which we’ll come back to shortly. Don’t listen to people if they make fun of you for tags. They’re not trying to run a revenue-generating business. I wish the tags didn’t have to be visible all the time, but they often do.

Look for Contests

There are many contests out there, that will ask you to submit images by using a specific hashtag. Maybe you don’t even care much for the prize in the contest, but using these tags can add additional visibility to your photo as others will be looking at submissions to see what they’re up against, or for ideas about what they should post.

Always Tag People or Entities

When I suggest tagging, I’m not only talking about descriptive works. Also tag a person if there is one in your image, or tag a corporation if possible. I have had many successes doing this, with examples being the first image above, as well as the one below, where I tagged the social media account of Olympic Bronze Medalist, Gracie Gold. Sometimes a celebrity may not notice when they have tens of thousands of followers, but this time she did, and contacted me through my photo site to ask me for the images. I love making connections like this with the newsmakers of the world.

2014 Sochi Olympian and U.S. Team Bronze Medalist, Gracie Gold performs at Stars on Ice in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA on May 4, 2014.

In another case, I tagged Severs Corn Maze in an image of my son at their event. They ended up noticing my image as a result, and using it in a caption contest on Facebook to the tune of over 400 comments. I look for any opportunity to tag an entity (even going as far as tagging Mall of America when it appears in the background of my airline images captured at the Minneapolis airport).

A boy's reaction after landing a flying leap from a hay bale into a corn pit at Sever's Corn Maze in Shakopee, Minnesota.

KISS Principle

No, not the common Keep It Simple Stupid, but rather, Keep It Social Stupid! You should avoid seeing social media as a post once and forget it medium. You need to be social and engage with your followers. If people like your image, take some time, whenever possible, to check out their profile and like some of their images (but only if you genuinely like the image). If someone comments, respond if you can! This can be exhausting, so you have to pick and choose where you invest your time, but it’s important to do this if you can. Also, proactively look for posts by other users and find images you like, especially if they’re in your genre. They may be doing the same thing I’m suggesting and like your images as a result.

Caption when Posting

Try to do this whenever you can and try to make them interesting or perhaps even funny. This adds an additional social engagement element to the photo beyond just serving as basic explanatory text. For the image below, I tried to be as witty as I could to make this not just a picture of a little boy, but something funny as well. Also important is to add the caption at the time of posting. Don’t add it later as part of the comments, as this will result in the caption being buried when others comment. Finally on this note, always try to use proper grammar when captioning to project a more polished image.

A little dinosaur attempting to wash his car, and lamenting his inability to work the squeeze bottle with his little T. rex hands.
A little dinosaur attempting to wash his car, and lamenting his inability to work the squeeze bottle with his little T. rex hands.

Always Phone Home

I mentioned previously that having a home base for my images is important. Also important, is that I “phone home” often to tie everything back to my primary source of images. I do this often on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tubmlr. I have had people contact me through my website after seeing images on social media, and have seen this strategy result in major traffic to my website. I typically do this by adding the following text after the caption text, “Prints available on my site at: emmanuelcanaan.com.” Again, do this as part of the caption and don’t let it get buried in the comments.

Networking

Social media offers a great opportunity to network. Look out for these opportunities as you are practicing the KISS principle. I’ve already had real photo shoots happen because of people I met on social media.

Know Your Audience

As with anything, it helps to know your audience. In this context, it helps to know which social networks may be most receptive to the type of photography you are doing. For example, I’ve found a large community of aviation fans on Instagram. If you do more nature or landscape photography, you might find a greater response on Fine Art America, whereas my images have very little engagement there.

Don’t Point Out Flaws

I implore you, don’t start off captioning your images by telling people what you did wrong capturing them, or what you don’t like about the image. Whatever you choose to post, post it as if it’s the greatest image in the world, and don’t draw people to the flaws. If they find some, they find some, but by all means, don’t point them out unless the forum is specifically a site where you are asking for constructive criticism. Viewers will engage more with your work if they don’t start off with the idea that something is wrong with it.

I am a Photographer

I encourage you to not introduce yourself as, “I’m an amateur that likes to do XYZ.” Instead, if you walk like a pro and talk like a pro, people will think you’re really a pro. This is the classic “fake it till you make it” strategy. That will lead to greater engagement, and hopefully opportunities to do more shooting!

Your Name is Your Brand

While there is nothing at all wrong with selecting a company name or handle to operate under, also consider that your name itself can easily serve as an effective brand name. Personally, I like using my own name better as people start to really remember it. Using your name can elevate your status as an individual, rather than be lost behind a company name. Also, try to establish a new username for your brand instead of using something like CatLoverz89 to post landscape pictures.

Note Image Sizes

Images sizes for uploads can be important as some social networks will destroy your images when they need to be compressed or resized after upload. Here is a good list of image sizes for various networks from Sprout Social.

Analytics

Many sites have built in analytics, or the ability to add Google Analytics. Do both if possible, and pay attention to what the stats are telling you. They can help you discover the best times to post, as well as have a sense of what are your most popular images. I am underplaying this a little bit simply because this post is already long enough, but analytics can be a gold mine of information.

Instagram

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It’s Not What You Think

I used to think Instagram was a place where people posted horrible mobile phone pictures, made even worse by tacky filters. It is that sometimes, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a massive social network focused on images from people of all walks of life and interests. It was recently purchased by Facebook for a cool $1 Billion, but has thankfully remained somewhat independent.

300 Million Users

There is a very large chance you will find a significant base of users that share your interest. It’s also the social network where I have found the most significant level of engagement.

Don’t Be Private

Instagram defaults to private profiles. If you want high engagement, make your profile public. Personally, I rarely follow someone back if they have a private profile because I don’t know what I am going to get, and I don’t want to be rude by unfollowing right away.

1080 x 1080 Image Size

It’s both a pro and a con that Instagram forces a max resolution of 1080 x 1080 (or 1080 x 1350 for a portrait image at a 4 x 5 ratio). It’s a pro, because it makes all images, even blurry ones, look good. This allows you to use some as a “gateway drug” to draw people in and drive traffic to your site. It’s a con, because it’s hard to show your images in their full glory. Images submitted at higher res will be scaled down. I try to submit images at the exact resolution Instagram is expecting to prevent them from being overly compressed by the app upon submission.

Very Mobile Focused

All image posting unfortunately has to be done from a mobile phone. This reflects the site’s original roots as an app for taking quick mobile phone snaps and sharing them instantly with the world. To get the images back to my phone after editing, I use Dropbox, but there are numerous other ways to do this. Take note that there is limited functionality from the website. You can follow, like, and comment, but little else.

Tags, Tags, Tags

Everything happens on Instagram with hashtags. Nothing can be located otherwise through search. This includes tagging your image with as many relevant tags as you can find, as well as tagging people whenever possible. There is a max limit of 30 tags. Don’t exceed this or the image will post with no tags. I also recommend placing the tags after any caption you post to make them as discrete as possible. It is also possible to add the tags as a comment after posting to make them even more discrete. Don’t worry about adding a bunch of tags, as Instagram users are used to this. I don’t even notice the tags any longer when scrolling from the caption to the comments in other users’ images.

Followers=More Followers

Follower numbers are very closely monitored by Instagram users and they lead to more clout. The more followers you have, the more likely people are to want to follow you, and the more likely Instagram is to suggest you to others in the Explore section of the mobile app.

Don’t Buy Followers

The opportunity to do this exits with any social network, but there seem to be many people that do it on Instagram because of how important followers can be to your clout. It is easy to detect an account with fake followers as they will have 50,000 followers, but only 100 likes per image. An account with real followers will usually see about 10-20% of their followers engaged on any one image (based on my casual, unscientific observations). Thankfully Instagram recently purged a large number of these fake followers.

Short Web Links

If you are going to post a web link in a caption or comment, use as short of a link as you can, as the Instagram mobile app does not turn links into clickable links unless they are part of your profile. Consider a link shortener, but avoid if possible, as people will be wary of where a shortened link leads due to the number of spam accounts using them on the service.

Iconosquare

Iconosquare is a cool site I found that can show you a bevy of very interesting stats such as, when you post most often, which of those times receive the most engagement, and which images have the most likes or comments. These stats can be useful when trying to determine the timing of when to post. Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) is unaffiliated with Instagram so use at your own risk when giving them access to your Instagram account. Unfortunatley, it isn’t free. Current pricing is $28.80 a year.

Facebook

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Limited Enagagement

With over 1.35 billion monthly users, Facebook is the largest social network in the world. So one might think it is the best place to post right? Despite their enormous user base, I have personally encountered the lowest level of engagement on Facebook for my own photos, but the highest level of engagement when my images are shared by a large entity like USA Today. Facebook has algorithms, which I can’t even begin to explain, that govern how posts are presented to a user in their news feed. Facebook tends to favor large entities that can afford to pay to drive engagement.

2048 x 2048

The current max image size Facebook can display is 2048 x 2048 pixels. Facebook is notorious for compressing images down into horrible approximations of the original image, so I try to not feed Facebook anything bigger than what it needs, and I never post a serious image from a mobile device as those get compressed even further.

Tags!

While hashtags are important anywhere for max engagement, most don’t realize that Facebook supports hashtags. Try using a small number of them, and they will turn into clickable links once you post. As mentioned before, always try to tag entities when able, either in the image itself, or in the caption/comments. Some large entities don’t allow themselves to be tagged in the photo but this is good to do if possible, as it will show up in the “Photos” portion of their profile.

Comments

As always practice the KISS principle, but on Facebook, this has an added benefit. If you respond to a comment on your post, it will drive the post back to the top of users’ news feeds as if it were a new post. This works hours or even days after a post was made. Use this strategically to your advantage by timing when you respond to comments.

Setup a Photo Page

I highly recommend setting up a photography page to separate your work from your personal profile. They are very easy to setup, make you look more professional, and allow any friends that (regrettably) don’t like your photos to still follow your personal page without being inundated by your amazing images. This will also allow you to advertise if you wish.

Consider Ads

On that note, ads are becoming an unfortunate part of Facebook, but they can be effective if worded correctly (Facebook can help you with this). I once gave this a try on Facebook, and was able to go from 100 followers to 400 in just a few days.

Try Groups

Like Flickr below, Facebook has a very active collection of groups filling every conceivable niche topic you can imagine. I’ve made real-life connections with some amazing people in groups. If you have a Facebook photo page, you should consider posting images to it, then sharing them with the groups you are a member of. One note of caution about groups: when you post there, Facebook will unfortunately share what you are doing there with all of your friends if the group is a public group.

Share to Your Personal Page

You should occasionally remind your friends that you have a photo page by publicly sharing your photo page’s post on your personal profile. An added benefit of this, is that anyone stumbling on your personal page will then also know you have a photo page.

Twitter

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320 Million Monthly Users

Twitter is a sizeable network that can’t be ignored. However, despite the large size, there is a great deal of noise so it is hard to get engagement. If you “only” get 20 retweets on an image, don’t be concerned as this is a lot on Twitter.

Completely Public

Be careful what you tweet, as the short post format of the site has led people to post kneejerk comments that can ruin lives.

Image posts

It’s been proven in studies that tweets with images get more engagement, so if you are going to post an album link, try to post one photo along with it. The max image size that gets displayed is 1024×512, but there are other image sizes to consider that govern how the image appears before it is expanded. Once again, take a look at the Sprout Social link for more info.

140 Character Limit

This is a holdover from the original days of Twitter when posts were made using SMS text messages that have a hard limit of 140 characters. It can make it hard to abbreviate comments without bad grammar, but people will understand. Keep in mind that posting an image reduces your available character count. As always, add tags, but due to the character limit, you will have to choose wisely. Look at trending tags and see if any apply to what you are posting.

Don’t Start with @Mentions

You want to be sure to tag entities or people. On Twitter, this is known as an @mention. Do this whenever you can, but don’t start a sentence with an @mention unless you are replying to someone. Doing this will be interpreted by Twitter as a reply, and will not show up in your main Twitter feed. It will still be visible if people look for it, but it will lead to less social engagement. So instead of saying, “@Ford trucks are the best,” say something like, “I love @Ford trucks. They’re the best!”

URL Shortening

The character limit can make it necessary to shorten URLs to smaller links that take up less space. A good reliable service for this is goo.gl which is, as you likely guessed, is run by Google. It will let you post shorter links, as well as show you analytics for who clicks on those links (so it can be useful with any post, not just Twitter). No matter what you do, the actual link will be replaced with a Twitter-shortened link behind the scenes since Twitter does their own analytics, but you’ll still see the analytics results on Google as well. Be sure to be signed into your Google account when shortening links to retain your link analytics for future reference.

Leave Room for Retweets

When someone retweets your post, they have the option to add a comment. They can’t do this without truncating your post if you use up all of your 140 characters, so try to leave some unused space if you can (though this can be really hard if you add a photo to your post).

500px

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6 Million Total Users

500px has a smaller user base than the other social networks, but this network is solely focused on photography. It has managed to attract some incredible professional photographers, many of whom left Flickr years ago in favor of a social network focused on curating the best work in photography.

Timing

While timing is always important, on 500px, it is very important in terms of your score (pulse) and status. Every like on 500px will increase your pulse score, but a dozen likes in the first few hours or day that you post will drive the score very high, very quickly. On the other hand, a dozen likes days or months after you post will barely move the needle. This is important as this score will affect when your photo is awarded the “Upcoming” status or the coveted “Popular” status. A score of 70 will get you Upcoming status and a score of 80 and above will get you Popular status. It takes approximately 15-21 likes to reach Popular status, depending on how fast you receive them, and how many views it takes to get you those likes. It gets harder to reach Popular status with each passing hour, and nearly impossible after 24 hours.

The status is important only because it affects how many people are likely to look at your work. 500px specifically calls out these categories on their site. However, once you reach popular status, you might see the growth of your image’s popularity drop off significantly as your image is now up against some of the best mind-blowing photography in the world.

Follow 500px

500px will often announce contests and calls for photos that clients are looking for on their social media accounts, so be sure to follow them wherever you can and subscribe to their email newsletter.

Tags

These will help your photo be noticed more quickly for boosting the score, and are also important for 500px Prime.

500px, 1170px, 3000px

The name 500px comes from the fact that original posts were limited to 500px in size. This changed quickly at the request of the users. Size isn’t so important as 500px does a nice job of scaling, so you can feel free to upload at full res. The largest image size the site will currently display to users in the browser is 1170px, and 3000px is the minimum size needed to sell images.

Free-ish

500px accounts are free, but the free accounts are limited in the number of images that can be posted per week (which can be a good thing). On the other hand, paid accounts will get you statistics data about your photos, and also get your photos instantly available on the 500px Prime store (whereas free accounts must wait for editorial review). They also sell a slightly cheaper version of their “Awesome” account that is paired with the Adobe CC Photography bundle, but then you must pay annually for Adobe CC instead of monthly.

500px Prime

This is a fantastic way to monetize your images without having to do any of the marketing/transactional legwork. Would you believe I was able to license the simple image below, of my son in our driveway, for $250? I took home $175 of that sale. Images must be devoid of corporate logos or else they will require a property release document that 500px makes available to you. If there is a recognizable person in the image, you must also obtain a signed model release form. In my case, it was easy since he’s my son, but keep this in mind.

Their licenses go for $750 for images to be used on products, $250 for a royalty-free non-exclusive license, and $50 for a web/social media license. You keep 70% of that sale, which you can claim after 45 days. Free accounts can still make use of this. While you can sell your own images without 500px, they have a big marketing engine working for you, and handle all the payment processing as well.

A young boy enjoys his tricycle in the rain.

Flickr

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Constantly Reinvented

Flickr has been around a while and used to be king of the social networks for sharing images. It is constantly being reinvented to bring it back to the popularity it lost over time. Don’t discount it though, Flickr is still very, very active.

Very Active Social Groups

Flickr doesn’t publish usage stats, but I have seen estimates that they have around 75-90 million monthly active users. Many of those users are active in the multitude of Flickr groups. There are many groups dedicated to all manner of niche topics or even competitive showdowns. It is very important to join groups, read the rules of each group, and add your images to them. Groups will greatly increase the visibility of your images.

Explore Feature

The coveted status on Flickr is to be added to the Explore section for a day. This is Flickr’s way of showcasing the most interesting photos over the past 24 hours. Flickr uses an unpublished algorithm to determine what gets picked on any given day, and there is much speculation on the tricks for getting it to happen. The consensus seems to be, don’t upload more than a few images at once, limit the photo to 5 groups for the first day, and be social. This is all speculation though, and ultimately what matters is getting lots of likes and comments quickly. To do that, just focus on posting the best work that you can, tag it, and share the link on other networks. Being featured in Explore can mean thousands of views for an image in one day.

2048 x 2048 Pixels

Image upload size doesn’t matter so much, but the max Flickr will let people download is 2048 x 2048. This is assuming you have prohibited original image downloads (be sure to do this if you don’t want people getting a hold of the real image). I have heard of simple hacks that make it easy to access original images, so I am leery of uploading full-res to Flickr.

Great Stats

Flickr has built-in analytics that show you a detailed view of how popular your images are. This used to be the domain of the Flickr Pro users, but now Flickr is free to all users (ad-supported), and basic stats are included there as well. You’ll still need a Pro account though if you want advanced analytics.

Tumblr

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300 Million Monthly Users

This is a very active social network that is somewhat of a cross between a blog and a social network. It’s important enough that Yahoo bought them in 2013 for $1 billion dollars. Like Flickr, Yahoo also doesn’t publish active user counts for Tumblr, but I’ve seen estimates that they have close to 300 million monthly users.

Can be a Blog

Some people do use Tumblr as a blog. I took a different tack with it and chose to make a profile where I feature some of my favorite/most popular images.

Reblogging

You can either like a post or reblog it. There are many users whose blogs consist mostly of reblogs from other users. Reblogs are good for your images as any like of a reblog, unlike Facebook, gets aggregated back to your original post. I never reblog simply due to the nature of my blog.

Tumblr Radar

One of the big prizes on Tumblr is being featured in the Radar. This is a small box in the corner of each user’s dashboard where various images rotate through. I had never noticed it before the image below was featured for four hours one evening, getting 1,000 likes in that period. It’s an aircraft image, so the appeal is limited, but an image with more broad appeal might get over 100,000 likes. I saw an estimate that upwards of 6 million people could see an image featured on the radar.

Sean D. Tucker powers Team Oracle's Extra 300L through a loop over Minnesota in tandem with Chuck Coleman's Extra 300L.

Lensblr

This is a Tumblr blog that claims to have over 1.8 million followers. They are focused on reblogging the work of original content producers. You can submit one photo per day to them, and if they choose to reblog it, you can expect hundreds of likes from it. Once you have 50 posts or more, you can apply to be one of Lensblr’s “member” photographers and be featured in a post on their site. Be sure to tag images with #photographers on tumblr, #original photographers, and #lensblr to increase the chances of them noticing your image.

Your Take (USA Today)

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Gannett Media

Your Take isn’t really a social network, but it is a big platform to share your images. It’s owned by Gannett Media, which includes properties like USA Today, many regional news outlets, and Career Builder. USA Today claims to be the top newspaper in the United States with over 4 million in circulation among paper, digital subscriptions, and other papers that use their content. They also boast 38 million unique monthly visitors online.

Potential for Big Exposure

The image you see below was shot by me with an iPhone 4S….an iPhone…but because it captured a relatively unique weather event, USA Today chose to feature it in their weekend edition of the paper on section A’s weather page. Remember, this is a paper with millions of readers and distributed to hotel properties all over the world. That same image ended up pulling in nearly 7,000 likes and over 1500 shares on USA Today’s Facebook page (which has nearly 2.8 million followers). This is an image I just took for myself and hadn’t planned to do anything with it because it was a “cell-phone” image. That was until a friend suggested sending it to the news sites. I sent it to all of the local news stations through their online image submission pages, but nothing came of it until I sent it to USA Today.

Sun Dogs on a -21°C morning over Eagan Minnesota (December 6, 2013). This image was published in the print edition of USA Today on December 20,2013. See it on USA Today's Facebook page  here: http://goo.gl/rk9PHT

Perpetual, Non-Exclusive

There is a caveat with this. When submitting images to Your Take, be sure to understand the terms. According to those terms:

You grant us, and anyone authorized by us, a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to use, copy, modify, transmit, sell, exploit, create derivative works from, distribute, and/or publicly perform or display such material, in whole or in part, in any manner or medium (whether now known or hereafter developed), for any purpose that we choose.

So in other words, you can still sell your photo to others, but for perpetuity, USA Today can do whatever they want with the image…for free. However, in exchange for giving them a photo, you will get some great exposure for your images. If you are okay with that, then it is an excellent outlet for sharing images, just know what you are agreeing to when you go into it.

Follow Them Everywhere

Your Take has a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and their own website. They will sometimes tag your social media account if they can find it (use your real name), but sometimes not. However, they will always mention your name, so you sometimes have to search or follow their accounts to see if they are sharing your images.

Watch for Photo Requests

On that note, watch their social media accounts for photo requests as they will often ask for specific topics like, “Show us your shots from plane windows,” or, “Show us your images of cats in trees.”

Other Good Social Networks

There are many other good social networks that I don’t use as often, but are potentially good outlets for your images.

Google+

Many photographers like Google+, but I’ve never had much traction there. On the flipside, I’ve never invested much time there, so that is likely why. Remember this all takes time, and you have to practice the KISS principle, so you have to choose your networks wisely. Personally, I’m always leery of investing time there as I am worried that Google+ plus will end up in the bin of failed experiments by Google, but I could be very wrong. Only time will tell.

Pinterest

I have to admit, this one is a bit of an enigma for me on how best to target it, but with anywhere from 40-60 million monthly users, it can’t be ignored. The nice part about Pinterest, is it’s very visual and every repin links back to your original site. One strategy with this might be to pin your other social media posts rather than your home website to drive likes on your social media accounts. I am currently trying this by pinning my 500px images immediately after posting.

Fine Art America or Pixels.com

Two names for the same site. Many close photographer friends of mine have had great luck there, and I am only just beginning to explore it. Ultimately, the decision on which sites to invest time in will depend on the type of content you have, and knowing where your audience goes to find images. The site can also help you facilitate prints and licenses of your images just like 500px.

Reddit

This site is certainly not photography focused, but it can generate huge amounts of traffic to your website. I got 100,000 views to my site over a couple day period, after I posted an album on Reddit. The main problem is there is a great deal of Reddiquette you need to follow, and many malicious people that will downvote just about anything for any reason. In short, self-promotion is looked upon very negatively by the Reddit users, so make sure that only a small portion of the links you post there are for your own work.

YouTube

I use YouTube minimally for now, but many photographers find it very useful for posting behind the scenes videos, or training videos.

LinkedIn

Yes, LinkedIn. Business focused, but guess what you are in addition to an employee of your day job? You’re a photographer! Put it on your resume, and now you have an opportunity to share your website with all the people that look up your professional profile.

Any Publicly Accessible Link

Ultimately, anywhere the public can view your image, and it can be picked up by a search engine, is a great thing! No one will ever be able to enjoy your images while you’re alive if you just put them in a box and never show them to anyone. Get them out there!

Blogs

I won’t delve deeply into this, but the very blog you are reading this post on is a key part of my social media strategy. It serves as an extension of my “home base” concept of driving more traffic to my website, and also allows me to go beyond the simple captions on my photo page. Look at any successful photographer, and I guarantee they have a blog of some sort.

Follow Me!

I’d be completely remiss in a social media guide if I didn’t ask you to follow me. Please follow me on your favorite network below, and add my RSS Feed to your favorite RSS reader (I suggest Feedly)!

If you like my photography page and want to try SmugMug yourself, please consider using my referral link.

I really hope that you’ve enjoyed this post. By all means, if I’ve missed anything or gotten something wrong, please post in the comments below. I’m always learning as well, and I’d love to learn from you!

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